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Date of Issue: November 29, 2007

County eyes slower water-born speed at Bean Point

With the channel off Bean Point in Anna Maria shifting closer to shore, and following several near-miss incidents between boaters and bathers, Manatee County commissioners are prepared to implement a speed limit in the channel.

Anna Maria resident Charlie Daniel and a number of people who frequent the beach at Bean Point complained earlier this year about speeding boats and the danger they presented to bathers.

Anna Maria city commissioners agreed and took the issue to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners.

Manatee County at-large Commissioner Carol Whitmore, former mayor of Holmes Beach, said the commission planned to implement a 25-mph speed limit in the Bean Point channel, which passes as close as 50 feet to the shore.

“That’s where it’s dangerous,” Whitmore said. “The channel has been moving over the years and the commission has all agreed it should be a ‘slow’ area.”

Whitmore said speed-limit signs would be posted in the channel after the commission passed an ordinance, but the ordinance would allow boaters to increase speed in that area “weather permitting.”

During inclement weather, there likely won’t be any bathers in the water to present a danger to boaters, she said.

Boaters had complained that with the tricky current at Bean Point, a 25-mph speed limit seemed too slow to navigate the waters during high winds and fast moving tides.

Daniel, who attended the county commission meeting last week for a discussion on the speed-limit ordinance, said he and other concerned Anna Maria residents were pleased by the county’s action.

“It’s very acceptable,” he said. “The county commission was very positive and very understanding about our concerns.”

Daniel said there is no problem allowing boaters to increase their speed during bad weather.

“Who’s going to be out swimming in the channel at that time?” he asked. “No, I don’t see that as a problem.”

Whitmore said she expected the commission to pass the ordinance in January.