BB backs down on stop work order at Coquina Beach

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An aerial view looking north from Longboat Pass at the south end of Bradenton Beach shows the vast coverage of Australian pine trees at Coquina Beach. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

A paved parking lot? Or save the trees?

Will the county sacrifice Australian pine trees and the ambiance of one of Anna Maria Island’s most iconic beaches?

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources manages and maintains Coquina Beach, a public beach in Bradenton Beach.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie and the city commission directed city building official Steve Gilbert to investigate whether the city could revise or revoke the county construction permit after a 4-2 decision by Manatee County commissioners June 19 to the remove and replace at least 97 Australian pine trees.

Subsequently, Gilbert sent a letter dated June 20 to Michael Sturm, project manager for Manatee County Public Works, advising the possibility of the city issuing a stop-work order for the paving project in view of the decision to remove some trees.

On July 1, Gilbert wrote in an email to The Islander that no stop-work order would be issued.

“At this time, they are cooperating in meeting the requirements of the land development code, so no stop-work order at this point,” Gilbert wrote.

The removal of the trees was planned for the first phase of the storm drainage project that involves installing underground pipes and laying pervious concrete in the south parking lot and on access roads.

The second phase of parking lot improvements calls for the removal of more of the 1,486 trees that shade the shoreline and the recreation and parking areas at the beach.

Gilbert addressed the replacement of the removed trees in the letter, saying the city LDC provides for a two-to-one replacement of removed trees. However, since the trees in question are Australian pines, a prohibited tree, replacement would be one-for-one.

Replacement trees must be any immature tree other than palm trees, have a minimum diameter of one-and-a-half-inch caliper and a 10-foot height when installed, according to Gilbert’s letter.

The letter placed Manatee County on notice to come into compliance with Bradenton Beach rules and to prepare and submit a plan showing all trees to be removed, the location of replacement trees and the species proposed.

A landscaping plan also must be presented, according to Gilbert, which would be added to the amended plans.

Gilbert told Sturm that after re-examining the permit documents and submittals to Bradenton Beach from the county, he found “no mention of tree removal, replanting, relocating, etc.”

Chappie said earlier he did not recall seeing any mention of tree removal in the original site plans for the parking lot improvements at Coquina, which were said to come about due to frequent standing water in the parking areas after storms.

While the letter reminded county officials the LDC authorizes Bradenton Beach to issue a stop-work order on the project because the county is out of compliance, Gilbert asked for collaboration on a solution rather than a halt to the work.

He also asked that no trees be removed until the issues are resolved.

Gilbert, like Chappie, maintains no tree removal was mentioned in the county permit application.

County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who lives on Anna Maria Island and holds an at-large seat, replied June 28 to a request for updates from The Islander.

“No updates on what is going on in Bradenton Beach, sorry,” she wrote.

Whitmore and Commissioner Betsy Benac, also serving at-large, voted against removing the trees at the beach.

Calls for comment to Chappie and Bradenton Beach Commissioner Randy White were not returned before The Islander press time.

11 thoughts on “BB backs down on stop work order at Coquina Beach

  1. Sue Longacre

    Why can’t the county LISTEN to what the PEOPLE WANT? There are many people, including us who have a place across the street from Coquina Beach, who LOVE the Australian pines. They provide shade, erosion control and are BEAUTIFUL to look at. Surely some other option exists if drainage is the issue?

  2. Bill Vogel

    I don’t think we’re ruining the beach,” Commissioner Stephen Jonsson said, “We’re enhancing the drainage there.” Commissioner Jonsson how many people come to this beach because of the great shade or enhance drainage of the parking lot? How many trees have fallen over in the past sixty years? Let’s remove the shade trees and put in palms like Lido and Siesta beach, no shade anywhere.

  3. Kate Carter

    we have been vacationing on Anna Maria for 10 years and have enjoyed walking and biking at Coquina beach ,The park and the trees are unique and the shade always welcome .I can not believe you would destroy this tranquil place for a parking lot.

  4. Lawrence Wilhelm

    I’ve been here for nearly 50 years and couldn’t care less about those trees. It was very interesting to note how The Islander presented a very emotional article about this issue. (OTHER MEDIA), however, presented facts and a true education about what was happening at Coquina. The newspapers were both dated 7/3. If you want the ‘touchy-feely’ thing of Environment Good, Humans Bad”, read the Islander. Of course it must be pointed out that this area, which apparently some people now consider ‘natural’, is a man-made beach & parking lot. Same goes for the land on which everybody’s house sits. Deal with it.

    1. Bonner Joy

      We report facts. We report what people say. We also put our opinions on the editorial page, where they belong. That does not make it less true, or more or less emotional. There would not be a discussion if people weren’t upset by the prospect of changing one of the county’s most popular public beaches. So like mom said, if you have nothing nice to say …. If you want to dish out compliments, take them to the source. — Bonner Joy

  5. Robert Rogers

    Those shade trees make Coquina Beach unique, beautiful and much more functional. Removing them is utterly senseless.

  6. Brett Allen Edgar

    Anna Maria, like the rest of Florida is a toxic playground for the greedy and corrupt. Focus on a state of the art sewage treatment facility and litter control and place a heavy luxury tax on multiple home owners and overpriced rentals and dual residense. Turn the Bradenton beach
    area into a wildlife reserve and raze waterfront properties. Florida on a whole is very careless with the waste of humans. Asphalt and concrete has no place next to the ocean. Focus on Red Tide and the filthy intercoastal and curtail the silly development. I believe Nature has a better plan for development underway.

  7. GLENN

    That’s the only place that seniors can walk with shade at the beach anywhere in SW Florida. BAD DECISION TO REMOVE THE SHADE TREES! I’ll remember this at election time.

  8. Doug Broberg

    We will be very sorry if those trees are removed for a paved parking lot. I suppose we could, like Joni Mitchell suggested, put the trees in a tree museum! She also said, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till its gone.” Maybe the County Commissioners are non-native and we can get rid of them. Think twice before these trees are removed

  9. Charles Field

    I fell in love with this beach because of the trees. I moved here from Maryland because of the love of the trees on the beach. It is truly one of the most unique and beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Don’t ruin the awesome scenery for tar! Remember Joni Mitchell. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” “They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum”

    Still holds true today!


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