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Date of Issue: November 11, 2009

Officials pump ‘no drilling’ message

Bradenton Beach city commissioners committed to a countywide campaign to oppose expanding drilling opportunities for oil and natural gas in Florida waters.

The city commission vote Nov. 5 came days after Manatee County commissioners adopted a resolution opposing an expansion of drilling opportunities.

The opposition votes are taking place as local officeholders prepare to propose a 2010 legislative agenda to state lawmakers who continue to explore proposals to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist suggested a year ago that drilling opportunities could be expanded provided the operations were clean and safe enough to protect the state’s coast.

The state House of Representatives then approved a bill to allow drilling within three miles of the coast. However, the measure did not advance in the state Senate.

The tussle continues in Tallahassee, where in October, a coalition of environmental groups urged Crist to carefully consider “the risks posted by nearshore oil drilling, exploration, transportation and storage.”

Bradenton Beach commissioners signed a letter to the county’s legislative delegation that states, “The beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key are among our community’s most valuable resources. The area’s natural beauty is the driving force behind a tourism industry that hosted more than 446,000 visitors in 2008 resulting in a total economic impact of over $479 million to Manatee County’s economy. The unknown possibilities of drilling would jeopardize our pristine coast.”

County commissioners endorsed the same letter, which also states, “The potential impacts of drilling would impact, perhaps the most severely, the people who call Manatee County home. Beachfront property values could plummet. A nearby oil spill has the potential to ruin the boating, fishing, charters, scuba diving and parasailing pastimes and related water industries that are a local way of life.”

In other business…

In other business at the Nov. 5 Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting, commissioners:

• Approved a special event request for a series of Bridge Street Markets through the winter season.

• Approved payment of a $5,843 invoice from M.T. Causley for building department services.

• Approved a series of requests to hang banners near the intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road to promote local events.

• Approved a special exception request for the operation of a massage service at Silver Surf Resort.

• Discussed a citizen’s request that the city proceed with amending a provision in the land-development code that restricts beer and wine sales on Bridge Street.

There was consensus on the commission to amend the provision — which requires a distance separation between establishments with liquor licenses — rather than simply repeal the rule. The amendment process could take about two months.

• Authorized staff to proceed with an application to the state to pilot an anchoring and mooring program.

• Adopted, with a second reading, a tougher ordinance on solicitation in the city.

The next commission will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.