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Date of Issue: April 22, 2009

Mayor formally seeks annexation

Ramping up
Boaters arrive at the Kingfish Boat Ramp at the west end of the Anna Maria Island Bridge April 16. The ramp, on the border with Holmes Beach, currently lies in unincorporated Manatee County and the policing falls under jurisdiction of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Holmes Beach’s mayor last week formally asked the Manatee County Board of Commissioners to allow the city to annex Kingfish Boat Ramp.

“The Holmes Beach City Commission is requesting the Board of County Commissioners consider agreeing to the annexation of the area east of our city boundary to the Manatee Avenue Bridge,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger wrote County Commission Chair Gwen Brown April 14.

“Should the commission agree to the annexation, issues such as public safety, maintenance and boat ramp operations would be agreed upon by interlocal agreement,” the mayor continued.

In 2006, a survey of Kingfish determined that the boat ramp was in unincorporated Manatee County to the surprise of Holmes Beach officials, who had long thought the county-operated ramp was within city limits, just as is the county-operated Manatee Public Beach.

In November 2006, Bohnenberger asked County Commissioner Joe McClash to back a voluntary annexation of the property.

The county board rejected the idea of annexation in a letter to Holmes Beach officials.

In more recent months, with the election of John Chappie and Larry Bustle to the county commission, there have been indications the county would reconsider.

Holmes Beach city attorney Patricia Petruff has said the Manatee County attorney’s office contacted her about Kingfish, raising the question of the Holmes Beach Police Department again providing law enforcement protection in the area and indicating that the county might explore annexation.

Bohnenberger said that if the city annexes the property, the county still would manage the boat ramp.

Meanwhile, the county continues to pursue plans for Kingfish improvements, including new landscaping, a sidewalk, a redesign of the parking lot and seawall replacement.

The MCSO also is reviewing the city’s request that HBPD officers be deputized so they can help patrol the Kingfish area.

At a meeting last week, the sheriff said annexation was the best answer to the situation.