Tag Archives: 01-15-20

Dead dolphin recovered from Anna Maria beach

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Gretchen Lovewell, center, program manager for the stranding investigations team at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium on City Island in Sarasota, arrived to oversee the removal of a male dolphin that washed up on the Gulf shore near the Palmetto Avenue beach access in Anna Maria. Mote will determine cause of death with a necropsy, but no trauma was evident, Lovewell told people gathered on the beach. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Nack had issues.

Gretchen Lovewell, program manager for the stranding investigations team at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium on City Island in Sarasota, wrote The Islander an email Jan. 10, explaining that the dolphin that stranded and died on the Gulf shore near the Palmetto Avenue beach access in Anna Maria had “several issues.”

Her post-necropsy update stated that most of the male dolphin’s organs were abnormal and it had recently eaten four “decent-sized catfish.”

Lovewell said there was “no smoking gun,” but it was a “very sick animal.”

Lovewell told people gathered on the beach there was no evident trauma and age may have been a factor. The stranding team was familiar with the dolphin named Nack. It had been tracked for years by members of the Sarasota Bay Dolphin Project.

Anna Maria ditches veteran commissioner for new appointee

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Joe Muscatello is sworn into the office of commissioner Jan. 9 by Anna Maria city clerk LeAnne Addy.
Former Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland addresses the mayor and commission members Jan. 9. Islander Photos: Phil Colpas

It took a couple months, but it’s official: The fifth Anna Maria City Commission seat is no longer vacant.

The chair was filled Jan. 9 by a unanimous vote by commissioners for the appointment of Joe Muscatello.

The seat was previously held by Dale Woodland, who served 16 years, eight back-to-back two-year terms, as commissioner. Woodland failed to qualify for re-election in November 2019 because he paid the $48 qualifying fee with a personal check instead of a designated campaign account.

The commission agreed to accept applications for the vacant seat through close of business Jan. 8.

Mayor Dan Murphy said Jan. 9 the applicants were Muscatello and Woodland.

Each applicant was given up to five minutes to address the commission during the regular meeting Jan. 9.

Muscatello moved to the island 10 years ago to help care for his ailing father. He’s been vacationing with his family on the island since 1978. He moved from Holmes Beach to Anna Maria two years ago.

He has 45 years of experience working in various capacities at the local government level, including serving as mayor of his hometown in “the coalfields of West Virginia.”

He is a proponent of home rule.

“You have to fight the state always trying to take the power away from local governments,” he said.

Muscatello didn’t file his application until Jan. 8.

He ultimately decided to run at the last minute, after reading a newspaper article about what the city commissioners and mayor were most proud of accomplishing in 2019.

“It’s the intrinsic value of this,” Muscatello said. “When you see something you’ve done that you’ve contributed to the community. That’s where the reward is in this job.

“You’ve got to love your community. It’s like that old Tina Turner song, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ That’s what it is. It’s love. My motto is, ‘Let’s have some fun and get the job done!’”

Woodland said he began his local political career with code enforcement and then the planning and zoning board prior to his long tenure on the city commission.

“I lost the first two times,” Woodland said about his initial run for the city commission. “The third time, I finally got elected. That was the beginning of 16 years. I’m proud of the service I’ve had and I’d appreciate serving more.”

In a Jan. 5 email to The Islander, Woodland wrote: “I am a public servant, always have been and always will be. I have no agenda but to serve. Our residents and visitors alike are welcome and a benefit to our city. I work in our city and am blessed to have people talk to me every day; their input drives me. When we are not always on the same page, our differences are respected and I have to make a decision. That’s my job.”

City commissioners voted via ballot 4-0 in favor of Muscatello.

Murphy congratulated Muscatello on his win and then thanked Woodland for his years of service.

“I hope that you continue to serve the city in other capacities,” Murphy said to Woodland. “I’m hoping we’ll see you here again.”

Muscatello was then sworn in by city clerk LeAnne Addy.

In other city commission news:

  • Commissioner Carol Carter was nominated and accepted the position of city commission chair, which had temporarily been held by Murphy.

Commissioner Mark Short was nominated and accepted the position of city commission vice chair.

  • Murphy appointed Muscatello as liaison to the Island Players, which performs at the theater adjacent to city hall.

The mayor has not yet named the Anna Maria City Pier liaison, a position previously held by Woodland.

  • The commission unanimously passed an ordinance to allow alternative methods of stormwater design to ease the process and reduce the expense for single-family residential lots.
  • An ordinance is being explored to place a 180-day moratorium on electric scooters to allow the city to develop regulations for such uses on rights of way.
  • Consider an ordinance to give law enforcement teeth on regulated water activities in designated areas. Murphy said this mostly concerns personal watercraft at Bayfront Park.
  • Announced that citizen-of-the-year nomination forms must be submitted by noon Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The city will honor the citizen of the year Thursday, Jan. 23, at 5:30 p.m., before the commission meeting at 6 p.m. at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

Anna Maria ousts 20-year tenant

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Workers put finishing touches Jan. 9 on the roof of the buildings at the T-end of the Anna Maria City Pier, 100 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria. The buildings will house a restaurant, bait shop and restrooms. Islander Photos: Phil Colpas
Construction supplies are stacked Jan. 9 near the Anna Maria City Pier, which is tentatively closed, pending and opening to fishers in late-February.

The Anna Maria City Pier is still on track for a late-February opening for anglers, but the fate of the pier’s restaurant and bait shop remains unknown.

However, Mario Schoenfelder, city pier tenant since 2000, likely won’t play a role in the pier’s future.

The city commission Jan. 10 voted unanimously to decline Schoenfelder’s final lease offer and will seek requests for proposals from new prospective tenants.

Present at the meeting were Mayor Dan Murphy, Commission Chair Carol Carter, Deputy Chair Mark Short, Commissioner Amy Tripp and the newly appointed commissioner, Joe Muscatello, sworn into office Jan. 9 to fill the vacant seat previously occupied by longtime Commissioner Dale Woodland.

Commissioner Jonathan Crane and Schoenfelder attended the meeting remotely, via phone.

Schoenfelder, who owns the Rod & Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, delivered his final pier lease proposal prior to the deadline of Dec. 31, 2019.

The city pier was closed by the city and Schoenfelder’s rent was abated after the September 2017 damage from Hurricane Irma. In 2018, the pier was demolished by the city to make way for a new pier.

Although Murphy said he and Schoenfelder had come to an agreement on many details, there remained two outstanding issues: insurance and rent payments.

According to Schoenfelder’s final proposal, his understanding was that the tenant would be responsible for liability and contents insurance and that the city was responsible for casualty insurance.

“I am asking the city to explain how sufficient insurance coverage would be provided and how a sufficient degree of financial safety for the tenant would be established,” Schoenfelder wrote.

Murphy said at the Jan. 10 meeting, “Mr. Schoenfelder is willing to put up $800,000 for improvements on the pier. My recommendation is that we provide insurance.”

A rough cost estimate for casualty, fire and wind insurance is $50,000 per year, according to Murphy, and about half that amount would go toward insuring improvements with the city insuring any improvements that Schoenfelder couldn’t take with him at the termination of the lease.

That eliminated one point of contention for the mayor, leaving the monthly payment.

Murphy had emailed Schoenfelder Sept. 30, 2019, and presented him with two base-payment options for a new lease.

The first option included a monthly base payment of $21,600, along with either a 3% annual increase to begin after the first year or an annual adjustment based on the consumer price index.

The second option included a monthly base payment of $18,900, along with either a 3% annual increase to begin after the first year or an annual adjustment based on the CPI — $250,000 upon signing the lease.

Schoenfelder countered with monthly payments of $8,000 with the first six months rent-free, to begin when the restaurant opens, CPI-based adjustments kicking in after three years and a 10-year lease with two five-year options.

Carter, who asked Schoenfelder how he came to a payment of $8,000 per month on a new facility when he previously paid nearly $12,000 per month, learned his $12,000 payment offer was based on an investment of $500,000, while the offer to pay $8,000 monthly is based on an initial investment of close to $1 million, the cost for the build-out, fixtures and equipment needed to operate.

The proposed lease was for a 20-year commitment: 10 years plus two five-year options, with a potential percentage increase based on the CPI after the third year of the lease.

The city would be responsible for maintenance, including annual engineer inspections of the pier structure and pilings, according to the proposed terms, and the cost, yet to be determined, would be prorated annually and added to the lease.

Based on the terms of Schoenfelder’s final offer, it would take the city 20 years to pay back its investment of $2.6 million to build the new pier, Murphy said. When the cost of insurance is factored in it is 27 years.

“The pier was a revenue generator to the general fund over the years,” Murphy said. “It will be a long time before the pier will be a revenue generator again.”

Of the total pier cost of $2.6 million, $1.2 million has been paid, while $1.5 million remains outstanding.

“We’ve got the money earmarked for the rest of the pier,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to spend it. But we’ve got it.”

That money will come out of the city’s general revenue fund and “is not the money we get from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the (Manatee County) Tourist Development Council,” Murphy said. “There remains $500,000 between the state of Florida and Manatee County we have yet to collect, but that will not offset the total cost of $2.6 million.”

Former Commissioner Doug Copeland told the commission he opposed Schoenfelder’s offer and supported pursuing the RFP.

From the dais, Tripp said, “I would like to see more options for the city and move forward with the RFP process.”

The commissioners unanimously agreed to decline Schoenfelder’s offer and Short motioned to begin the RFP process. The vote was unanimous.

Murphy said he wanted to issue the RFP by Jan. 15, advertise and allow 30 days for evaluation.

“There have been quite a few people interested in this space,” he said.

The mayor said the RFP wasn’t issued previously because there was still an existing tenant and a lease.

“I believe it’s in the city’s and citizens’ best interest to move forward and look at other options for the pier,” Crane said, adding that open bidding would put a value on the lease and payments.

Crane expressed an interest in Schoenfelder participating in the RFP process.

Schoenfelder said if he did participate, he wouldn’t change his proposal and that he thought it unlikely other restaurateurs would agree to larger payments.

Although Schoenfelder is permitted to reapply during the RFP process, it appeared doubtful.

“I’m not sure how long the RFP process would take, and I’m reluctant to take part in another delay,” Schoenfelder said. “It’s an endless story. And I want this story to be ended.”

Bert Harris victory goes to Holmes Beach, but plaintiffs disagree

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Attorney Jay Daigneault, defending Holmes Beach in a lawsuit filed by several property owners alleging violations of the Bert J. Harris property rights act, shares a congratulatory moment with Mayor Judy Titsworth Jan. 8 in the Bradenton courtroom. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

The Holmes Beach win hinged on one word.

At a Jan. 8 hearing, 12th Circuit Court Judge Ed Nicholas granted the city of Holmes Beach’s motion for partial summary judgment and denied the same motion filed against the city by three vacation rental property owners.

The property owners claimed the city violated the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act, which allows demands for compensation due to government regulations that “may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights,” when it enacted vacation rental regulations limiting occupancy to a maximum of two persons per bedroom.

In his ruling, delivered from the bench at the hearing, Nicholas emphasized use of the word “inordinately,” defining it as “excessive,” and, while allowing the owners were “absolutely burdened,” the occupancy reduction was not sufficient for the claim.

“I don’t think the plaintiffs have come close to establishing anything that could be remotely considered an ‘inordinate burden,’” the judge said.

But the plaintiffs’ attorney disagrees.

Representing the owners, attorney Aaron Thomas of the Najmy Thompson law office in Bradenton, filed a motion Jan. 10 to reconsider the ruling.

Thomas wrote in the motion that the term “inordinate burden” is defined by the Bert Harris Act as an action of a government entity restricting the property owner from attaining “the reasonable, investment-backed expectation for the existing use” and does not limit “reasonable.”

The motion states that the statute was not set up to allow the circuit courts to make that decision.

The owners, properties and their complaints are:

  • AMI Breeze, 209 54th St., 20 to 16 occupants.
  • Coral Escape of Holmes Beach, 132 50th St., reduction of 14 to 12 occupants.
  • Mojito Splash, 304 65th St., 12 to 10 occupants.

During the hearing, Thomas revisited his argument that his clients’ rights were violated when the city enacted enforcement regulations in May 2016 for a September 2015 two-person per bedroom rule.

Prior to the adoption of the rule, there was no occupancy limit for residential rentals.

In 2011, the Legislature limited the ability for local governments to regulate vacation rentals. Then, in 2014, the state gave some authority back to local governments, allowing regulations to abate quality-of-life issues stemming from short-term rentals.

Attorney Jay Daigneault, of the Trask, Daigneault, law firm in Clearwater, assigned case by the city’s insurer, challenged the owners’ right to bring the suits without first being denied a variance, which Thomas countered as futile owing to local regulations.

Thomas argued that the state preemption precluded the city from regulating vacation rentals prior to the comp plan’s 2011 amendment.

Daigneault and Thomas also argued the validity of the property appraisals, with Daigneault citing testimony from the city’s appraiser.

Daigneault said both appraisers agreed that the “highest and best use” must be considered during the appraisal, but the Bert Harris Act only is enacted if the fair market value of the property has been devalued, which he said was not fully cover in the plaintiffs’ appraisals.

In closing, Daigneault said the plaintiffs’ allegations were based on the premise that the city’s occupancy regulations “burdened or diminished the short-term vacation rental industry.” He said the Bert Harris Act is not in place to support “private industry,” adding that the act is meant to be generally applicable.

Thomas closed by reasserting that since the city could not grant a variance to “escape a provision of the comp plan,” and it was relying on state regulations over local ones.

Following Nicholas’ ruling in favor of the city, Daigneault told The Islander, “I appreciate the judge taking the time to consider the case as he did. I think he got it right.”

A ruling on a similar set of cases based on occupancy limits against Holmes Beach, heard in November 2019 by Judge Charles Sniffen, is forthcoming.

First to roll in the bowl

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Nick Bozza skateboards Jan. 8 in the newly finished bowl — maybe the first to try it out — in Holmes Beach. He and sibling Jolie came to Anna Maria Island on vacation from Staten Island, New York, while cousin Gretchen Bozza came from Great Barrington in the Berkshires in New Hampshire. They were visiting their grandfather, who resides in Tampa, but the family converged at a rental home on Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Holmes Beach continues trudge down treehouse path

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Treehouse owner Lynn Tran pleads her case Jan. 7 before 12th Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
A treehouse, built in 2011 in an Australian pine tree by the residents of the beachfront home, still stands on the beach at 103 29th St., Holmes Beach. Islander File Photo

One treehouse built in Holmes Beach in 2011 without a permit has led to four pending lawsuits spanning seven years.

At a hearing Jan. 7 on a lawsuit filed in December 2018, 12th Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen heard the city of Holmes Beach’s motion to dismiss a second amended 11-count complaint by the plaintiffs, treehouse owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen.

At the beginning of the proceedings, Sniffen granted the city’s motion for judicial notice to include evidence already proven in cases pertaining to the structure.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, also a defendant in the case, filed a motion similar to the city’s, asking for a more defined complaint and motion to dismiss.

An order posted to the Manatee County public records website stated the court took the motion to dismiss under advisement and continued a Jan. 7 motion to impose sanctions.

At the hearing, attorney Randy Mora of Trask Daigneault, the Clearwater law firm assigned to the case by the city’s insurer, said Holmes Beach moved to dismiss the case on several bases, including “res judicata,” meaning a competent court already made a final decision in the matter.

“This is all about fairness. The plaintiffs don’t agree with what the law says,” Mora said. “And until this court tells them they can’t proceed any further, they will keep trying to get the answer they want.”

The city repeatedly has prevailed over appeals, including in a November 2019 hearing on a case that started in 2013. At that hearing, 12th Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas refuted the plaintiffs’ claim that a city ordinance, including a 50-foot setback from the state’s erosion control line on the beach, amounted to property taking without compensation.

Tran and Hazen built the two-story, uninhabitable structure in 2011 attached to an Australian pine tree on the beach fronting their home and four rental units they operate at 103 29th St., leading to litigation between the city, the DEP and the owners.

The city has argued that the treehouse was built in violation of the city building code and inside the beachfront setback.

The setback rule prohibits structures within 50 feet of the ECL, which separates the public area of the beach from private ownership. The 1992 island beach renourishment project permanently established the ECL.

The owners claim that state law, which allows a more flexible setback, supersedes local law and that then-city inspector Bob Shaffer said no permit was required.

According to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint, Shaffer said, “Just build it safe.”

At the Jan. 7 hearing, Tran said she and Hazen were given approval by the building official, but then were met with resistance from the city and DEP.

“No one told us what to do, so here we go,” she said, in reference to her and Hazen’s first declaratory judgment complaint.

Since 2013, three of four lawsuits are pending in circuit court, while the Jan. 7 case is in state court.

Circuit courts have general trial jurisdiction over matters not assigned by statute to the county courts and also hear appeals from county court cases, while state courts have broad jurisdiction.

Sarasota attorney David Levin is the plaintiffs’ attorney for the circuit court cases.

The plaintiffs are representing themselves in the state case.

A federal suit, added by the treehouse owners, was thrown out in August 2019.

As of press time for The Islander, a date was not set for the continued hearing.

What treehouse? Where?

Some might wonder what people are referring to when “the treehouse” turns up in conversations.

Located in Holmes Beach at 103 29th St. on the beachfront at a residence that includes four short-term rental units, is an elevated two-story, 400-square-foot open-air structure with solar power that was built around a large pine tree.

The owners have been in litigation with the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since 2013 regarding the treehouse, which the city and state claim was built too close to a renourished beach — within the setback for the state’s erosion control line, and without permits.

BB pier floating dock, gangway woes wear on for CRA

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The gangway that connects the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach to the floating dock rocks and shifts with the tide Jan. 10, moving the gangway off-center of the dock landing. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Dealing with the floating dock at the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach is like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

Just as the city takes care of one problem, another pops up.

The floating dock allows seafaring folk to dock their vessels to access the pier, which the dock runs parallel to. The city has either been pursuing, installing or repairing the amenity for three years.

Community Redevelopment Agency Chair Ralph Cole, also a city commissioner, told board members Jan. 8 he ordered 18 rollers — the mechanisms that allow the dock sections to rise and fall with tidal movement — for $12,000 from Golden Marine Systems after judging satisfactory GMS’s installation of railings and ladders. Cole was authorized by the CRA to move forward if he approved of Golden.

The rollers will replace those that Hecker Construction installed that did not match the original plans for the dock.

Cole said the plans from Technomarine Construction, the dock designer that defaulted on its contract with the CRA, were sent to Golden to remanufacture the rollers, beginning with a single roller to test the quality.

In the meantime, the gangway — the walkway connection between the dock and the pier — needs corrective work, according to Cole.

Cole said the gangway end shifted to the dock’s north side as recent rough waters rocked the structure and something must be done to hold the gangway straight. For now, railings will prevent the end of the gangway from sliding off the north side of the dock.

Additionally, the dock may need to be moved a few feet east.

The city hired Duncan Seawall to repair the gangway, which was pulling away from the pier, by driving and cross-bracing four pilings to support the walkway, as well as extend the pier to reach the gangway.

The repair shifted the gangway three feet to the east but the dock remained in position, causing the end of the gangway to intrude into the dock landing area.

Cole said Duncan, when it installs the new rollers, could relocate a couple of pilings and shift the dock.

Cole said he will acquire estimates for such work.

 

Dock additions

While problems have plagued the dock, the CRA continues to move forward with its plans to attach finger docks to the east side of the floating dock, as well as an extension to connect to a dinghy dock near the base of the pier.

The finger docks and extension would provide additional area for boats to dock and the extension would double as a “nature walk” along the shoreline.

City attorney Ricinda Perry is working with Environmental Science Associates, a consulting firm, to update a submerged land lease with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, as well as permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Perry said ESA has three questions the CRA must answer for the permitting process: is the dock extension floating or fixed? How wide is the extension? And will the extension have a handrail?

Cole said he preferred a floating extension, which would be more convenient for people to use for docking and only require one row of pilings.

Mayor John Chappie, also a CRA member, said he has concerns with the durability of floating structures and questioned whether a floating extension could hold up to rough tides.

He said he wants to test the existing floating dock’s durability.

Cole countered that floating docks can withstand harsh conditions if properly set up.

After, Perry said the CRA could modify its plans if members decide against using floating structures.

CRA member and city commissioner Jake Spooner moved to direct her to move forward with plans for a 10-foot-wide floating dock extension with a handrail on one side. Chappie seconded the motion.

CRA members voted 6-0 to approve the motion.

CRA member David Bell was absent with excuse.

 

Reimbursing the city

CRA members also voted 6-0 to reimburse the city $66,517 for work to fix the gangway. CRA member and commissioner Jan Vosburgh moved to approve the reimbursement. Chappie seconded the motion.

The city had hired Duncan Nov. 13, 2019, to repair the gangway connection to the pier. Duncan finished repairs and submitted an invoice in early December, but after the monthly CRA meeting, so the city had footed the bill.

Introducing the CRA

The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency promotes restoration, growth and tourism for the district — bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico — by funding capital improvement projects with incremental tax revenue collected by Manatee County since 1992, when the area was declared blighted.

The agency includes the mayor, city commissioners and two appointed members, restaurateur Ed Chiles and resident David Bell.

2 Bradenton women arrested for cocaine possession

Two Bradenton women were arrested for cocaine possession by Holmes Beach police following a traffic stop.

At 3:23 a.m. Dec. 28, 2019, officers observed a Toyota being driven at a high rate of speed. When the driver failed to stop at a four-way flashing signal at the intersection of Manatee Avenue West and Gulf Drive, officers initiated a traffic stop.

Holmes Beach Police Department officers reported an odor of marijuana emitted from the vehicle and there was a bag of marijuana on the console.

The driver, Joselin Soto, 20, of Bradenton, told police she had a medical marijuana card, but a check of the card by police showed it expired. Soto told police she did not renew it because of the holidays.

Officers informed Soto that medical marijuana must remain in its original packaging.

While speaking to officers, Soto reached for a backpack, which police took and placed on the hood of the car.

Police reported that the backpack contained a plastic bag with marijuana, burnt marijuana cigarettes, a hypodermic needle and an eyeglass case holding a white substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. The cocaine weighed 10.2 grams.

When officers told Soto her car was going to be towed, she allegedly said, “You are not searching my vehicle. You are not towing my car.”

Officers did search the vehicle and reported finding $160 in cash, a plastic bag containing a white powdery residue and a digital scale.

A passenger in Soto’s vehicle, Jazmine Garcia, 19, also was arrested. Her backpack contained two plastic bags with a green leafy substance, 1.3 grams of cocaine and a used hypodermic needle.

The green leafy substance was submitted for testing.

Both women were arrested for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond for each was set at $2,000 and they were given appearance dates of Jan. 24 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Soto also was cited for failure to obey a red flashing traffic signal.

Parrish man arrested in Holmes Beach for possession, sale of marijuana

A Parrish man was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell following a traffic stop by a Holmes Beach police officer.

HBPD received a license plate reader hit on a suspended license for a vehicle being driven by Jailyn Stewart, 20. He was driving in the 5300 block of Gulf Drive at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 27.

A traffic stop was initiated and the patrol police reported a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

According to police, Stewart said he was in possession and handed the officer a jar containing marijuana.

Stewart and a passenger exited the car and police searched the vehicle, finding two large plastic bags filled with marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a digital scale. They also found $763 in Stewart’s pocket.

Stewart was charged with possession of cannabis of more than 20 grams with intent to sell. HBPD said the marijuana field-tested positive for cannabis and weighed about .57 pounds.

Stewart’s bond was set at $1,500 and he was given a first appearance date of Jan. 24.

Stewart was also issued a citation for driving with a suspended license and his car was towed.

The passenger was not arrested.

HBPD searches, returns juvenile home safe and sound

A missing juvenile was found safe in Holmes Beach after almost 11 hours.

The search Jan. 3 involved about 20 first-responders.

The boy’s sister had gone to the Holmes Beach Police Department Jan. 3 to report her sibling, who is autistic, missing. About 1 p.m. that day he had walked off a construction site on Portosueno Avenue in Bradenton’s Palma Sola Park, where he had gotten into trouble while assisting his father.

The boy was seen by a family member around 4:30 p.m. at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, and the family was notified and searched the beach.

A missing person report was filed at 10:30 p.m. and HBPD officers, with the assistance of Bradenton Beach Police Department officers and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies, searched the island. A description of the juvenile was sent to other law enforcement agencies, as well as local hospitals.

Manatee County Search and Rescue responded with 15 officers and multiple K-9s to canvas Anna Maria Island and west Bradenton, searching well into the night before calling off the search at 3:30 a.m.

Shortly after the search was called off, a Holmes Beach officer found the juvenile riding his bike on Manatee Avenue and he was returned to his family.

The age of the juvenile and his city of residence were not released by police.