Tag Archives: 03-16-2011

Going green

The Sarasota Pipe Band colors one of Holmes Beach’s busiest thoroughfares green during the annual St. Patrick’s Parade March 13. The Beach Bistro and Eat Here restaurants sponsored the event, which began in the 5400 block of Marina Drive and continued north to Crosspointe Fellowship. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff

Going green

Judy the Elephant stars in the St. Patrick’s Parade March 13 in Holmes Beach. The Island will see more merriment March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day.

Joselyn Leal, 7, hands out medallions.

Preston Petrill, 5, of Holmes Beach checks out his collection of beads.

The Anna Maria Garden Club invites paradegoers to this week’s penny flower shower, as well as hands out flowers along the parade route.

Paradegoers call for beads.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers wave from the Skullywag.

The Jacobites provide the Old Country sound during the parade, which also featured high school and fife and drum bands.

Vin Mannix of The Bradenton Herald leads the parade carrying the Irish flag.

Paradegoers welcome the first entries in the long procession. The last entry didn’t reach the end of the route near Crosspointe Fellowship until about 5:30 p.m.

Commissioner John Monetti and son Joey toss beads from the Holmes Beach entry.

Paul and Pierrette Kelly enjoy a ride in the parade.

The poms squad with the Southeast High School marching band.

The Braden River High School Marching Band entertains on the parade route.

City hears potential centennial costs

Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby recently presented city commissioners a laundry list of potential city costs associated with the May 13-14 Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration.

The pier centennial committee is selling memorabilia to cover its costs, but the committee is a city-organized body and the city is ultimately responsible for payment of the expenses, he noted.

Selby on March 10 told commissioners the city might be responsible for payment of renting barricades to block off streets. He estimated the rental fee would be about $750.

Additional Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be needed both days, and Selby said he and MCSO Sgt. Dave Turner, head of the Anna Maria substation, determined the extra deputies will cost about $400.

One cost the city no longer has to consider is the $630 rental fee for Bayfront Park. The Anna Maria Island Privateers have been invited to move their family picnic from Bayfront Park to the north parking lot at the Anna Maria City Pier.

Selby said Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, would be open from about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 14 to provide public rest rooms, space for a ticket booth and a VIP welcome area.

Selby said he wanted to be prepared for what he called the “worst-case scenario.”

In that event, Anna Maria would have to cover some costs. The expenses could run from $2,000 to $2,500 for the celebration.

If he has to ask the commission for money, the mayor said, the good news is that “I won’t have to ask you again for money for another 100 years.”

DOT apologies for causing traffic gridlock

The Florida Department of Transportation issued an apology for the severe traffic backups on Anna Maria Island and the Palma Sola Causeway March 7. The congestion was caused by two simultaneous DOT projects in the area.

Following complaints about the traffic from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker’s office, DOT spokesperson Lauren Hatchell said all DOT operations and inspections on the Anna Maria Island Bridge and Palma Sola Causeway will take place during night-time hours.

The mega-backup began around 10 a.m. March 7, when a DOT work crew began a milling and resurfacing project on the causeway near the Harbour Isle entrance, allowing one-way traffic with a flagging operation.

Hatchell said the work notice was not included in the weekly DOT Road Watch report given to Island media several weeks ago because the work “was to have already been completed” prior to March 7.

The scheduled repairs were noted in the DOT Road Watch distributed March 4.

Because the flagging operation reduced causeway traffic to one lane, motorists heading west onto Anna Maria Island eventually backed up in Bradenton on Manatee Avenue past the 59th Street intersection and a normally 10-minute drive took more than an hour.

For motorists on Anna Maria Island, the situation was gridlock, said Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine.

“It was pretty poor timing by the DOT. We had several things going, and they all came together,” he said.

Officers did traffic control “as much as possible,” Romine said, “but we eventually reached the point where we had nowhere to put the cars.”

March 7 was the first day of spring break for Manatee County’s public schools and good weather had many folks headed to the Island.

“The spring breakers certainly were coming that day,” Romine said.

In addition to spring breakers increasing the already high volume of traffic to the Island in March and the flagging operation on the causeway, DOT officials were conducting a biennial inspection of the AMI Bridge the same day and occasionally shut down traffic on the structure in both directions.

That was the DOT’s fault, Hatchell said.

The inspection “absolutely should not have occurred, and once it was brought to the DOT’s attention, we immediately requested the bridge inspection staff to cease their work and remove themselves from the bridge,” she said.

Hatchell said the inspection was rescheduled for after spring break and will take place at night, as will any road repairs the next few months.

“Unless an emergency arises, there will not be any type of work or inspections on the bridge during the day,” she said.

“We sincerely apologize for the delays and impacts this work caused to residents, business owners and visitors to the Island. I can assure you, this will not happen again,” Hatchell concluded.

Some Island business owners, however, questioned why the DOT was scheduling any work on the causeway during the height of the winter-spring season.

“What were they thinking of?” said Charlotte Mansur, owner of Mr. Bones BBQ on Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

“It took me more than an hour to get across the causeway that day. Don’t they know there’s a tourist season here on the Island?”

Still, Mansur was pleased that the DOT immediately recognized the situation, pulled the workers and issued an apology.

Mansur credited prompt reaction of Deb Wing of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and Kaycee Ellis of Hunzeker’s office with contacting the DOT after she complained about the delay.

Romine said in addition to the DOT work, a truck that caught fire at the Manatee Public Beach that day also caused traffic to backup, as motorists viewing the incident slowed to watch.

“To say Monday was gridlock is an understatement,” the chief said.

By March 8, traffic in Holmes Beach was back to what Romine called “normal for the winter season and spring break.”

Island Inc. settlement settled

Bradenton Beach citizens collectively now hold the title to waterfront property in the 1400 block of Gulf Drive.

The city’s effort to close a long-standing lawsuit has ended with the transfer of the title and deed from private developers to the public trust.

“The city,” city attorney Ricinda Perry said recently, “is now officially the recorded owner of the Island Inc. property.”

Perry said the case was closed with the city receiving a “clean bill of health on the property.”

Mayor Bob Bartelt said city officials soon will meet to “consider the possibilities to be done with that property.”

What the city knows is that development is not an option: A long dispute over development triggered the suit.

The dispute between the municipality and the developer dates back to the 1990s, when Island Inc./Beach Development acquired 2.6 acres of property, most on the bayfront but some on the Gulf of Mexico, with Gulf Drive bisecting the property.

When the developers purchased the property, they knew a portion of the land on the Gulf was identified for preservation in the city’s planning documents — both the future land-use map and the comprehensive plan, which guide development.

However, because it had eliminated development opportunity on part of the Gulffront property, the city agreed to allow for a higher density in the bayside project.

Yet as the project moved forward, developers encountered a problem: Increased development by the bay was limited by height restrictions that could not be waived.

What followed was a complicated civil dispute that only became more serpentine as the years went on.

In mid-2010, after court-ordered mediation talks, the city commission and the developers negotiated a settlement agreement: The city would acquire the preservation property from the developers and the developers would get $350,000 from the city.

The commission cast its final vote to approve the agreement in late-2010.

The court executed notices of final disposition and dismissal, closing the case earlier this month.

Property owner appeals case against city

A Bradenton Beach property owner is continuing his long-running dispute with the city of Bradenton Beach with an appeal to a higher court.

Ken Lohn has asked the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal to review a ruling from Manatee County Circuit Court rejecting his argument that the city made an error in its decisions upholding a certificate of occupancy for a property that neighbor’s Lohn’s residence on Bay Drive South.

The city commission recently authorized city attorney Ricinda Perry to prepare a response.

Lohn, for years, has maintained that the city wrongfully issued a certificate of occupancy for a Fifth Street South development abutting his bayfront property and near a duplex he owns.

In April 2009, the Bradenton Beach Board of Adjustment recommended that the city commission deny Lohn’s complaint regarding the now privately owned Fifth Street property.

In June 2009, the city commission also voted against Lohn’s complaint, which essentially said that a driveway built on an easement alongside his home was too close to his property line and too narrow.

Lohn went to circuit court in July 2009 to seek a judicial review of the commission’s decision.

“This complaint challenges the city of Bradenton Beach issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the multi-family condominium … despite the fact the location is in violation of express provisions of the Bradenton Beach Land Development Code,” the complaint states.

Perry prepared the city’s response, which stated, “The city determined, based on competent and substantial evidence, that the issuance of the CO was proper and consistent with the applicable zoning and land-use regulations. Absent an abuse of discretion or a clearly erroneous decision by the city commission, the decision of the city must be upheld.”

Early this year in a 13-page decision, Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas did not accept all the city’s arguments, but he did uphold the commission’s decision and denied Lohn’s appeal.

Lohn, in late February, took his case to the appellate court.

“In my legal opinion, it is frivolous,” Perry said. She estimated the appeal could cost the city about $3,000 in legal expenses.

New Bradenton Beach resident is sex offender

A convicted sex offender from Ohio has moved to Bradenton Beach.

The 38-year-old woman moved in early March to the 700 block of Gulf Drive South.

The woman was convicted in Ohio of two counts of sexual conduct with a male minor and given probation, according to information available at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.

Convicted sex offenders in Florida are required to register their address with the FDLE and report any change in address within three days of moving to a new location.

There are no other convicted sex offenders living in Bradenton Beach, while two reside in Holmes Beach. The FDLE reports no convicted sex offenders living in Anna Maria.

Three convicted sex offenders live in the Cortez area, including a 71-year-old man who resides in a travel-trailer park on Cortez Road.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said his officers regularly check on any convicted sex offender living in the city, and they already have visited the woman and her residence.

Information on sex offenders listed with the FDLE can be found at www.fdle.state.fl.us. A link is provided at The Islander website, www.islander.org, under community links.

Resort hosts Ag secretary on spring break

Cedar Cove Resort recently hosted two prominent spring breakers — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and wife Christie.

Resort manager Eric Carins presented Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, with a “Key to the Cove” and an agricultural-themed gift basket filled with fruit — oranges, mangos, key limes and a coconut plucked from the Cedar Cove grounds.

Carins said the resort, 2710 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, hosts many high-ranking officials, as well as celebrities and entertainers” because the resort respects “their anonymity and they enjoy the service we provide. Everyone loves it here.”

Vilsack made an early bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Dismissal sought in panty-theft case

A 62-year-old Holmes Beach man accused of stealing underwear is seeking the dismissal of the case in Manatee County Circuit Court.

Ernest A. Kendler, who has pleaded not guilty to a burglary charge, was arrested after law enforcement officers searched his residence and found pairs of women’s panties identified as belonging to a 23-year-old neighbor who reported them stolen in November, according to a police report.

Through Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski, Kendler is questioning the constitutionality of the case, claiming that the prosecution’s filings are “legally vague, indistinct and uncertain.”

“The information read together with the probable cause affidavit in this action strongly suggests that more than one burglary is alleged,” the motion stated, adding that such results in “duplicity” and violates the state constitution.

If a judge declines to dismiss the case, Lipinski requested that the court order the state to provide more particulars about its case: the exact dates the home was burglarized, the exact criminal offense alleged to take place, the exact property taken during each burglary.

“Currently it is impossible for the defendant to prepare a defense,” the motion stated. “The information as currently charged exposes him to double jeopardy and negates a defense of alibi.”

The warrant that led to a search of Kendler’s property said a woman told the Holmes Beach Police Department she was missing two dozen pairs of panties and that her 21-year-old sister was missing 16 pairs of underwear.

The woman also said that on Nov. 6, 2010, she saw a man going through a dresser drawer in her sister’s bedroom, according to the warrant. The intruder did not face the woman, even as he left, but she said she believed the man to be Kendler.

In other court filings in the case, the prosecution submitted its potential witness list, which includes several Holmes Beach residents and three HBPD officers.

Potential evidence includes witness affidavits, police documents, lab reports, a criminal history, marijuana alleged to belong to Kendler, two pairs of underwear, plastic bags, a tin, a CD case and a drawstring bag.

She said ‘yes’

On March 3, I proposed to my girlfriend on the Anna Maria City Pier in Anna Maria.

It wasn’t just any proposal. I’m in the U.S. Coast Guard and stationed in Cortez. I planned it out so that one of her friends would invite her out to the pier for lunch.

I was in position, waiting near the Rod & Reel Pier on a Coast Guard boat. As soon as I got the signal she was in position, we gunned, hit the emergency lights and turned on the siren.

I flew by the pier and as we passed everyone was pointing and wondering where we were headed. Then we whipped the boat around to the dock. I hopped off the boat, my girlfriend stood there, shocked to see me.

I told her how much I loved her and gave her a rose. Then I got down on one knee, reached into my pocket and pulled out a little black box with a diamond ring. I then asked, “Avrey, will you marry me?”

Her reply, while nodding her head, was, “I told you not to ask me if I wasn’t wearing makeup or my hair isn’t done up, but yes.”

I was so excited I stood up, put the ring back in my pocket and hugged her.

She then replied, “Where’s my ring?”

I quickly pulled it out and placed it on her finger.

A crowd of people gathered around us, taking photos and clapping.

I’m now engaged to Avrey Ellsworth. I’m so happy and blessed to have her. I want to tell the whole world.

Greg Royal, U.S. Coast Guard Station Cortez