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Date of Issue: March 02, 2006

And the survey says: More surveys needed

BB city linit sign HB city linit sign
Take my city, please
Holmes Beach will have a professional engineer conduct a survey to determine exactly where the city’s boundary limits are in several areas, including where it meets Bradenton Beach. A condominium apparently straddles the currently recognized boundary and some residents pay taxes to both cities. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Some disputed pilings installed along the waterway between 56th Street and Sunrise Lane in Holmes Beach may or may not be interfering with navigation and may or may not be within the city limits.

The issue has put the Holmes Beach Building Department in such a quandary that the city commission recently authorized Mayor Carol Whitmore to order an engineer’s survey of that area, along with a survey of the city limits for the Kingfish Boat Ramp and the south end of the city where it meets Bradenton Beach.

The pilings in question were installed by Sunrise Lane resident Lance Spotts, but no permit was issued, according to Holmes Beach Building Official Bill Saunders.

That’s because Spotts didn’t apply for a permit and Saunders doesn’t know from the available maps if the city limits encompass the pilings.

In other words, he doesn’t know if he would even have authority to issue or deny a permit, and he doesn’t know if he has authority to have the pilings removed.

A letter from acting City Attorney Ed Conrad to Whitmore says it is Conrad’s understanding that the pilings were installed in the waterway adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Spotts property. "It is further my understanding that these pilings are interfering with navigation between the marina and the bay," continued Conrad.

Since Saunders is unclear "where exactly the city’s boundaries end," he is also unclear "where the city’s authority to enforce ordinances over Mr. Spotts’ activities begins," Conrad noted.

He also said he reviewed the 1875 government survey of the area, but was still "unable to determine exactly where the city’s boundary is in relationship to the new pilings." He recommended that the city conduct a professional survey of the area and contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection "to determine if that agency has jurisdiction over the installation of these pilings."

Whitmore said she’s been in touch with the DEP and it is investigating on that end, while the city proceeds with a survey.

Because of the recent controversy surrounding which entity has jurisdiction at Kingfish Boat Ramp - Holmes Beach, Manatee County or the Florida Department of Transportation - Whitmore and the commission agreed to have the survey include that area.

But wait. The survey says more.

There’s been an ongoing dispute the past 50 years between Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach over exactly where the two cities meet on Gulf Drive (State Road 789).

According to one source, the boundary is actually a few feet north of where the present city limit signs are and the current boundary divides a condominium complex between the two cities. Residents of that complex reportedly pay taxes to both cities.

"We just felt it was time to clear the air on all these boundary issues," said Whitmore.

If the Sunset survey shows that Spotts’ pilings are actually within the city limits, Whitmore said she would refer the issue to city staff for further action.


Pines coming down

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie and Whitmore have agreed to share the cost of removing some Australian pines on Gulf Drive that straddle the border between the two cities.

Whitmore said Bradenton Beach hired a professional pest control company that has determined that the trees are infected with termites and can’t be saved.

Every effort was made to save the pines, said Whitmore, but the pest control company said any further effort is futile.