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Date of Issue: December 10, 2008

Commissioners miffed over TECO project

Bradenton Beach city commissioners Dec. 4 showed frustration with delays in negotiating a franchise agreement with Tampa Electric Company/Peoples Gas.

Commissioners at their regular meeting last week asked city attorney Ricinda Perry to draft a letter to the company, which already has installed a natural gas line to Bradenton Beach, and state that the city has made its final offer on an agreement.

One of the hitches in the negotiations is over which entity the city is entering an agreement with —TECO or its subsidiary, Peoples Gas. Holmes Beach faced a similar situation when it negotiated a franchise agreement for the natural gas line earlier this year.

The pipeline project, which has involved the construction of a 4-inch gas line from 75th Street in Bradenton along Manatee Avenue to the Island and then on rights of way in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, had problems from its start in mid-June.

With permits from the Florida Department of Transportation, TECO/Peoples Gas was ready to begin installation of the pipeline along Gulf Drive, a state road, but officials in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach had not yet heard of the project.

“They never came to us until they started digging,” said Commissioner John Shaughnessy.

“In my opinion, they tried to railroad this through,” said Commissioner Janie Robertson.

Bradenton Beach commissioners did not move to stop the installation of the gas line in the city, but they did require the negotiation of a franchise agreement that is not yet complete.

Last week, Robertson said she was frustrated and expressed concern about the city’s legal fees associated with the negotiations.

Perry said her letter to TECO/Peoples Gas would include a request that the company reimburse the city for its legal expenses.

Mayor Michael Pierce said the city should emphasize that the next play will be the company’s. “We can just let that ride,” he said.

TECO/Peoples Gas officials did not return The Islander’s calls as of deadline.

In other business Dec. 4, the commission:

  • Approved a request for $500 from the Bridge Street Merchants Association for its holiday celebration, which will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 13.

The Bridge Street open house will take place at the same time as the Cortez Yacht Club’s fifth annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. The parade will take place in the Intracoastal Waterway between the Bridge Street Pier and the Cortez Bridge, with prizes from the club of up to $500 to be awarded.

  • Took a series of votes regarding property in the Sandpiper Resort Co-op on the northern boundary of the city. (See separate story.)
  • Approved a request to close city hall at noon on Dec. 19 for a holiday party.
  • Reappointed Daniel T. DeBaun to the board of adjustment for a three-year term.
  • Authorized the city building official to send a letter of “no objection” to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which is reviewing an application to build a swimming pool at the Beach House Resort, 1000 Gulf Drive N.

 The pool and construction work would not intrude on the beach area, according to the application.

  • Approved a banner request from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce for an Islandwide wedding festival scheduled to take place on Jan. 25.
  • Approved invoices of $3,030 in October and $3,494 in November from the city attorney.
  • Heard from Perry that a district court of appeals denied The Islander’s motion for attorney’s fees in a long-running lawsuit involving the newspaper and the city and a dispute over the city’ violation of the public records law.

The court did not issue an opinion.

Perry said the city would pay the newspaper the $5,855 judgment for legal fees previously ordered by the circuit court.

  • Voted to authorize Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby to attend an emergency planning conference in Orlando in February.
  • Voted to cancel its second meeting in December, which would have taken place Dec. 18.