Tag Archives: Community

A.P. Bell, DEP cancel June courthouse hearing

A June 3 court hearing came off the docket at the end of May in the case of A.P. Bell Fish Co. v. the Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund and the Department of Environmental Protection.

One of A.P. Bell’s attorneys, Jennifer Perez Alonzo of Beasley, Demos and Brown of Coral Gables, filed the notice with the 12th Circuit Court in light of the parties’ agreement to cancel.

The board of trustees, comprising the governor and his cabinet, manage public lands for the state. The DEP administers and enforces the state’s environmental laws and regulations.

There was no court date as of May 30.

Up for hearing was a motion to strike A.P. Bell defenses by the state agencies and the fish company’s motion to strike the defendants’ defenses.

A.P. Bell sued the DEP and Board of Trustees in May 2018, claiming ownership of submerged land in Sarasota Bay under a 1,200-square-foot structure that Raymond Guthrie Jr. built in 2017. The location is about 350 feet from A.P. Bell docks.

A.P. Bell and Guthrie claim the house with air conditioning and a metal roof built on pilings should be grandfathered by the state because it was built where a Guthrie family net camp once existed. They also contend the structure was once connected to the mainland.

However, the state maintains Guthrie built a structure larger than any prior structure on sovereign land, without permits and after warnings to remove the structure.

In a DEP enforcement case, Judge Edward Nicholas entered a judgment against Guthrie in February requiring the structure’s removal and a $6,500 payment for costs and fines. He stayed enforcement of the decision pending the outcome of the A.P. Bell case.

Kathy Prucnell

BB Sunshine defendants extend new offer

Less than two months remain until a trial date.

And the six defendants have placed offers to compromise on the table.

The lawsuit against six former Bradenton Beach volunteer board members initiated by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and joined by the city, alleges the board members violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law by discussing city matters at meetings that were not publicly noticed and through emails, texts and phone calls.

Defendant John Metz’s attorney Tom Shults and defendants Reed Mapes, Tjet Martin, Patty Shay and Bill and Rose Vincent, who are representing themselves in the lawsuit, emailed letters to city attorney Ricinda Perry and Robert Watrous, the city and Clarke’s attorney for the lawsuit, with the same offer to compromise.

Both letters stated the defendants are willing to “settle with the city and Clarke only if they dismiss this lawsuit against all defendants with prejudice.”

The letter from Shults stated that to end the lawsuit the city must pay Metz $42,000 and Clarke must pay $14,000, amounting to 40% of Metz’s attorney fees and costs for the suit as of the end of April.

Mapes’ email stated his settlement will require the city pay $14,000 and Clarke pay $8,400. Martin’s letter stated the city must pay $1,000 and Clarke must pay $600. Shay’s letter stated her settlement will require the city pay $901.52 and Clarke to pay $444. The Vincent’s stated their settlement will require the city to pay $4,000 and Clarke to pay $1,000.

Each letter stated the requested payments represent 40% of the defendant’s costs to date for the lawsuit.

All the offers stated any future proposals would result in requests for the city and Clarke to pay a higher percentage of legal fees incurred by the defendants.

In March, the city made an offer that would have required each of the defendants to pay $500 and admit they violated the Sunshine Law during meetings of the grass-roots group Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach, of which the defendants were members while also serving on volunteer city boards.

The defendants declined and responded with an “offer to compromise,” to make a $10,000 donation to the Annie Silver Community Center and exclude their admission of guilt and the $500-per-person fine.

Their offer also stipulated that the city and the defendants would each pay their own legal fees.

When the mayor and city commissioners declined the defendants’ compromise offer, they agreed that the defendants’ language in the agreement, stating they “may” have violated the Sunshine Law, was not definitive and decided to proceed with the suit and let the court determine the outcome.

Then, in April, the mayor and commissioners presented the defendants with an offer to end the suit without an admission of guilt — if the defendants paid the court costs incurred by taxpayers at that time, more than $165,000.

The defendants declined.

Both offers from the city remain open.

The city has until 5 p.m. Friday, June 7, to respond to the new offers from the defendants.

New tech reveals tidal wave of holiday traffic

The numbers don’t lie.

At a city commission work session May 30, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer reported 132,641 cars passed license plate readers at Manatee Avenue, Gulf Drive and East Bay Drive during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27.

He estimated the number of automobiles represents 400,000 to 500,000 people.

City attorney Patricia Petruff suggested the mayor or commission chair share the data with Manatee County.

“That’s an astounding amount of people for a city with a resident population of less than 4,000,” Petruff said, “They should know what the tourist development council is doing to us, not for us.”

Additionally, at a May 28 commission meeting, Tokajer reported over the holiday weekend, the HBPD issued 230 parking citations, 86 traffic citations, six traffic arrests, four noise violations, four license plate reader related arrests and one drug arrest.

Officers responded to 63 dispatched calls and 262 officer-initiated calls over the holiday weekend, according to Tokajer.

“They were very busy,” Tokajer said. “But they really did a great job.”

The chief said there were no burglaries, robberies or larcenies reported over the weekend.

— ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

The Islander’s 2019 Top Notch photo contest launches

The Islander’s Top Notch contest begins anew.

The contest celebrates what still is known as the “Kodak moment,” despite the widespread switch from film to digital technology.

The contest includes six weekly front-page winners. Each will claim an Islander “More than a mullet wrapper” T-shirt or coffee mug.

One weekly shot will take the top prize in the Top Notch contest, earning the photographer a $100 cash prize from The Islander and certificates from local merchants.

A pet photo winner is announced in the final week.

Please, note, each original JPG must be included in a single email with the name of the photographer; date the photo was taken; location and description, names of recognizable people; and address and phone number for the photographer.

More rules and deadlines can be found online at www.islander.org.

Bonner Joy

2019 deadlines and rules:


Boom! July 4 memories could be everlasting on the cover of The Islander, and if you’ve got a great snapshot, the coveted spot could be yours.

The Islander Top Notch digital photo contest will begin in the June 26 edition. Six weekly winning photos will be featured on the cover of The Islander, with one grand prize winner of $100 from The Islander and a collection of prizes and gift certificates from local merchants. Weekly winners receive a “More-Than-a Mullet-Wrapper” Islander T-shirt.

The first week’s deadline is noon Friday, June 21, repeating weekly on Fridays for five weeks.

The photo judges hope to see some great photos from the July 4 holiday — but everything is game in this contest.

Top Notch entries can include family photos, landscapes and scenics, candid snapshots, action, humor and animal pictures. Nothing is overlooked, including kid pics, sentimental moments and moments of personal triumph.

In a separate contest, judges also will be looking for top pet photos with a prize appropriate to pets from Perks 4 Pets and $50 from The Islander.

Contest entries must be submitted in original JPG format via email to topnotch@islander.org.

Digital submission is required. No retouching, enhancements, computer manipulation or app enhancements are allowed.

One photo per email is allowed along with entry information in the e-mail text. There is no limit to the number of weekly entries. Also, entries need not be repeated, as select photos are retained by the judges.

Entries that fail to meet the contest requirements are disqualified.


Top Notch contest rules

1) The Islander Newspaper Top Notch Photo Contest is strictly for amateur photographers — those who derive less than 5 percent of their income from photography.

2) Black-and-white and color digital photographs taken after Jan. 1, 2017, are eligible. Photos previously published (in any format/media) or entered in any Islander or other competition are not eligible.

3) Photographs may be taken with any camera with digital formatting. No retouching or other alteration (except cropping) is permitted; no composite or multiple print images; no camera-phone-app manipulation. Photos must be submitted in digital-JPG file format. Prints and slides are not accepted.

4) Entrant’s name, address and phone number must be included in the email. One email per photo submission. Email single entries to topnotch@islander.org.

5) Entrants by their submission agree that The Islander may publish their pictures for local promotion. Entrants must provide the original large-format digital image if requested by the contest editor. All photos submitted become the property of The Islander. The Islander and contest sponsors assume no responsibility for maintaining submissions.

Entrant must provide the name and address of any recognizable persons appearing in the picture with the email entry.

6) Employees and paid contributors to The Islander and their immediate family members are not eligible.


Holmes Beach residents look to restart noise dispute

The city of Holmes Beach is looking to head off another complaint about noise.

Holmes Beach filed a motion to dismiss Richard and Marjorie Motzers’ amended complaint and the Motzers’ attorney set up an Aug. 1 court date to hear the dispute.

Anthony Manganiello III, of Icard Merrill in Sarasota, filed the Motzers’ new complaint, alleging the city failed to prevent residents “from being effectively driven out of their quiet neighborhood by excessive noise emanating from an ever-increasing number of short-term rental properties.”

He argued Holmes Beach police should be ordered to perform non-discretionary, administrative portions of the ordinance.

Thomas Thanas, of the city’s law firm of Dye Harrison, argued against the new complaint saying, “The amended complaint alleges no new facts. The amended complaint cites to no new cases.”

He also said Manganiello’s new argument asks the court to “dissect the city’s noise control ordinance” and separate the discretionary functions from non-discretionary/administrative portions,” which “misses the whole point” of a prior court order.

Twelfth Circuit Judge Charles Sniffin dismissed a prior Motzer complaint March 14, ruling the judiciary cannot interfere with discretionary functions of other branches of government, including an officer’s power to enforce criminal laws or issue civil citations.

An April 1 order in the case clarified that the prior dismissal was “without prejudice,” allowing the Motzers to submit an amended complaint.

The Motzers live in a residential district zoned for duplexes in the 400 block of 56th Street in Holmes Beach, where short-term rental properties on Holmes Boulevard and 55th Street border their home.

The couple first sued the city in June 2018, asking the court to mandate that Holmes Beach and its police department enforce the city noise ordinance, which restricts noise to no more than 65 decibels before 10 p.m. and no more than 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The city’s motion to dismiss the Motzers’ second complaint is set for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Anna Maria City Pier inches toward completion

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Grace Ankers, 82, left, sits next to her husband, Tony, 85, May 21 as they watch construction on the new Anna Maria City Pier. Islander Photos: Cory Cole
Workers walk across plywood placed to facilitate construction and safety on the Anna Maria City Pier May 24. The installation of the IPE planks is yet to come.

Passersby looked on with anticipation the week of May 20 as the Anna Maria City Pier took shape one slat at a time.

That week, i+iconSOUTHEAST was installing pipes, to carry water, gas, communication and electrical lines under the pier decking.

Day after day, people approached and asked questions of anyone wearing hard-hats, just trying to cure their curiosity.

Mayor Dan Murphy said May 24 that work on the pier was going smoothly with no current delays.

The next step Murphy has planned is selecting the contractor for the construction of the restaurant and bait shop at the T-end of the pier. Bids for the work were due May 20.

Four contractors submitted proposals: Burke Construction, D.L. Porter Constructors, Jon F. Swift Inc. and Mason Martin LLC.

Murphy met with the bidders individually May 24 to learn their plans for building the restaurant and bait shop.

The information gained will help set a timeline for installation of the ipe decking, according to Murphy, who wants to make sure the material is not damaged by construction work on the T-end.

Shoreline observation

“If you want a view, this is the pier,” Brad Bernardo said, from his lawn chair at Bayfront Park.

Bernardo, 53, of Bradenton, just finished enjoying an ice cream cone on the beach May 22. He had been visiting the pier with his family for about 20 years.

He said the pier was a great place to spend time with family, enjoy a view, fish or eat ice cream while walking the boardwalk.

Bernardo and many people look forward to the completion of the new pier.

“We would go to Two Scoops and then walk the pier,” Tony Ankers, 85, said.

Ankers and his wife, Grace, 82, were relaxing May 21 at the south end of Bayfront Park, adjacent to the Lake LaVista Inlet in Anna Maria — where they had a view of the progress on the pier.

The couple is from Welshampton, a small town located in Shropshire county in the United Kingdom. The Ankers visited for 30 years and, in 2001, purchased property here.

“We were upset when it vanished,” Grace Ankers said of the pier.

For the Ankers, visiting the pier was a part of their routine. Now they go to Bayfront Park and sit by the water and watch the construction progress on the new pier.

They are anticipating its completion and the day they will savor their ice cream and walk the pier again.

Murphy expects construction on the bents to be completed the first or second week in June.

Regarding the overall completion, Murphy explained the materials are all here. However, the weather will play a major role in the timeline.

The mayor plans the completion of the walkway and T-end by the end of the year.

MPO board: 44th Avenue extension would ease evacuation

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A Manatee County-Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council map shows evacuation routes, as well as evacuation levels. The evacuation routes off Anna Maria Island are State Road 64/Manatee Avenue and State Road 684/Cortez Road, which does not directly connect with Interstate 75. The evacuation route on the island is State Road 789/Gulf Drive.

For those evacuating Anna Maria Island in advance of a storm, only one route off the island — State Road 64/Manatee Avenue — takes travelers directly to the interstate highway.

But transportation planners hope to improve other evacuation corridors in the region, including the eastward extension of 44th Avenue, which connects with State Road 684/Cortez Road, the other main route off the island in an emergency.

During a meeting May 20 in Sarasota, the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization board voted 13-0 for MPO executive director David Hutchinson to send a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis detailing the importance of funding the 44th Avenue extension.

The Florida Legislature sent DeSantis a budget that includes a line item providing $10 million for crossings at the Braden River and I-75, after Hutchinson told the board the governor “is seeking justification for why that project should not be vetoed.”

Manatee County has funded the ongoing project mostly with impact fees from new construction, leading the governor’s office to question the appropriation of state funding. Also, the Florida Department of Transportation did not request or budget the money.

Establishing 44th Avenue-Cortez Road as a major thoroughfare from the island to Lakewood Ranch would help with evacuating Sarasota and Manatee counties, according to Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, a member of the MPO board.

“It is a very important connector and is vital for evacuations,” said Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, who represents the three island governments on the MPO board.

Also, the extension would relieve congestion on State Road 64 and State Road 70, which Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff described as “overloaded,” at maximum capacity.

The extension, he said, is “good for the county. … Good for the state.”

Board members also discussed planned improvements on River Road in Sarasota County, an evacuation route between I-75 and Englewood, and making Lorraine Road a major north-south thoroughfare east of the interstate.

The next MPO meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Holiday Inn Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota.

Sunshine depos spark Bradenton Beach election questions

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Bill Vincent, left, Janie Robertson, Reed Mapes, former Mayor Bill Shearon and John Metz gather May 24 before Shearon’s deposition at Vincent M. Lucentes & Associates Court Reporters in Bradenton. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

Bill Vincent lost a race in 2016 for a seat on the Bradenton Beach Commission to now-Mayor John Chappie.

“Residents, families and neighborhoods are underserved, and I plan to change that,” Vincent said at an Oct. 12, 2016, candidate forum.

Defeated, but good to his word, in July 2017 Vincent founded Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach.

The grass-roots group “was formed to give Bradenton Beach residents, owners and businesses common ground whereby everyone will have a voice.”

Vincent dissolved the group in November 2017. He and five other CNOBB members who also served on city boards were sued in August 2017 by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke for allegedly violating the Sunshine Law by discussing city business at CNOBB meetings and through phone calls, emails and text messages.

Clarke was joined in the lawsuit by the city, which also assumed the legal bills for the claim.

Defendants Reed Mapes, John Metz, Patty Shay and Bill Vincent served on the planning and zoning board and defendants Tjet Martin and Rose Vincent were members of the Scenic Waves Partnership Committee. They resigned from their city boards upon commencement of the lawsuit.

As of May 24, the suit had cost taxpayers more than $200,000 and about the same for the defendants, according to Metz.

Robert Watrous, the city’s attorney for the suit, deposed former Mayor Bill Shearon and former Commissioner Janie Robertson, also a CNOBB member, May 24.

Shearon was mayor but Robertson no longer was a city commissioner when the suit was initiated.

Connie Morrow, a current member of Waves and former CNOBB member, also was deposed May 20.

Robertson’s funding concerns

During Robertson’s deposition, Watrous brought up an Aug. 30, 2016, email from Robertson to a Vincent supporter in which she wrote, “Patty Shay and I are going to collect anonymous cash donations and I have four people willing to put their names on large checks from this cash collection … smaller grass-roots donations.”

Watrous read the email aloud and asked Robertson why she planned to keep the donations anonymous.

“I don’t know, but we didn’t do that,” she said. “Because it’s not legal.”

“No, it’s not,” Watrous agreed, and asked, “Then why did you say you were going to do it?”

Robertson said, “This was a plan that was not carried through.”

Education, politics

During her deposition, Morrow said CNOBB appeared to be “very much in flux” at meetings, with members conflicted about whether it was a political action committee or educational organization.

However, according to Florida statutes, because the group collected signatures from registered electors in support of ballot initiatives, it was required to register as a PAC.

Watrous asked Morrow if anyone discussed plans to run for office at CNOBB meetings.

“At the open meetings I attended there was never discussion of anyone running for office,” Morrow said.

“OK, but you hesitated,” Watrous responded.

“Because it came to be that Randy White became a participant at the CNOBB operating committee meetings,” she said.

“And he’s on the city commission now?” Watrous asked.

“Yes,” Morrow responded.

Watrous clarified the “operating committee” was referred to by the group as the “steering committee.”

Morrow said White was at the last steering committee meeting she attended, and she left early due to her discomfort.

“Because the conversation had moved over into the election and discussions on flyers and things like that, I said that I think I should go,” she said.

Parking garage discussion

Watrous asked Morrow if political issues were discussed at CNOBB meetings.

“I recall a topic coming up on one occasion,” she said. “The organization had agreed that it would sponsor certain initiatives to be put on the ballot for a citizen vote. There was a discussion about parking garages and the statement was made that that needed to be dropped.”

During his campaign, Vincent said he was against a parking garage in the historic district, saying it was inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, and he was concerned the city would amend the plan to allow a parking facility.

“This parking garage would solely benefit the merchants on Bridge Street,” Vincent said while campaigning in October 2016.

Watrous said the issue did go before the P&Z in 2017 as part of the approval process for an amended plan for the historic district, which means it might have been a reasonably foreseeable topic for Mapes, Metz, Shay and Vincent as P&Z board members.

“I really consider that as after-the-fact,” Shearon said during his deposition. “I know (a parking garage) was not acceptable to the city.”

Eleven depositions have been taken and about 10 more are scheduled, including Metz, who will be deposed July 2, as well as a continuation of city attorney Ricinda Perry’s March 20 deposition June 12.

A pretrial hearing for the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is set for June 20.

A trial date is planned in mid-July.

BB steps in to halt pine tree removal at Coquina Beach

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Bradenton Beach resident Mike Norman stands May 24 next to one of more than 100 Australian pine trees targeted by Manatee County for removal at Coquina Beach as part of a drainage improvement project. Norman alerted the city and urged the commission to save the trees at an emergency meeting called by the mayor. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

The planned removal of more than 100 pine trees at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach united people in opposition.

Bradenton Beach commissioners voted 4-0 May 24 to write to Manatee County administrator Cheri Coryea protesting the county’s plan to remove the Australian pine trees at Coquina Beach to make way for a drainage improvement project. Coquina is within the city limits, although the park is operated and maintained by the county.

Commissioner Randy White was absent without excuse from the emergency meeting called by the mayor.

Mayor John Chappie said the letter would inform the county that the trees must be saved and invite county officials to a city commission meeting within the coming weeks to explore alternatives for the trees.

The county hired Bradenton-based Woodruff and Sons in January for the drainage improvements at Coquina Beach, where the parking lots flood during heavy rains.

The project involves installing a pipeline and drainage system under parking, then laying pervious concrete for the beach access road and parking lot.

Woodruff is presently working at the south end of Coquina, progressing to the north end. The deadline to complete the work is Jan. 19, 2020.

Eric Epler, project manager for Woodruff, said in a May 23 interview with The Islander that the Australian pine trees at Coquina are an issue as a 10-inch-deep excavation is needed for new curbing on the road and that would harm the trees, leaving them in a dangerous condition.

“They have substantial surface roots,” Epler said. “We’re going to be impacting those roots and, when we do that, the trees are either going to die and topple, or a heavy wind is going to come and — when you take out half or more of the surface roots — topple the trees.”

Epler said there is no plan to replace the trees.

Chappie said the county did not notify him of the tree removal when it sought permission for the drainage project.

Chappie and Commissioners Jake Spooner and Ralph Cole said Bradenton Beach resident Mike Norman informed them about the issue when he called them May 23.

Norman also attended the meeting, speaking against the tree removal.

“I think the trees should be the guiding light for anything done down there. Anything. Nothing should be done that would kill any of these trees,” Norman said in a May 24 interview with The Islander.

Norman said the city should demand the county re-engineer the project to keep the trees. He added that he wouldn’t be satisfied with replacements, saying no tree could replace the Australian pine trees, some of which stand more than 50 feet tall and provide much-needed shade for the area.

“The other thing is everyone parrots the same company line about Australian pines,” Norman said. “All bureaucrats say the same thing: ‘They’re shallow-rooted, dangerous, they can fall down, and nothing can grow under them.’

“That’s the party line and it has been for years. And people don’t think. They just go along,” he continued.

If the curbing can’t be re-engineered, Norman said the county should only remove the trees on a need-to basis, keeping as many as possible.

Norman added that he spoke May 23 with County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who said the county commission also was not informed of the plan to remove trees.

“I think there was an effort to keep people in the dark,” Norman said. “Especially out here because if you asked 100 people on this island what they thought about killing over 100 trees in Coquina, they would all be horrified.”

Chappie called Coryea May 24 and asked the county to hold off on removing the trees. The mayor said Coryea guaranteed no trees would be removed the coming weekend — May 25-May 26.

Also, according to Chappie, Coryea plans to raise the tree issue at the county meeting May 28.

Spooner said the city must get the county to pump the brakes and find alternatives to removing the trees.

“This place is one of the most beautiful places on the coast of Florida,” he said,

He suggested rallying the public.

Cole motioned for Chappie to write to Coryea with the city’s demand and Spooner seconded the motion.

County plans for Coquina Beach

The Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 May 21 to approve a consent agenda that included a change order from Bradenton-based Woodruff and Sons for the Coquina Beach drainage improvement project. The change increased the contract amount from $2,426,774.90 to $3,017,417.01, and extended the construction deadline 72 days.
Eric Epler, project manager for Woodruff, said the county underestimated the amount of materials needed for the project and the change order corrects the county’s mistake.
The new deadline for the completion is Jan. 19, 2020.

BIEO considers sea level rise, future transportation needs

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Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth and city engineer Lynn Burnett listen to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy May 21 during a BIEO meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

They are separate municipalities, but they face similar issues.

“Water doesn’t know a boundary line,” Lynn Burnett, city engineer for Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, said May 21 during a Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting in Holmes Beach.

City representatives touched on several topics at the meeting, including sea level rise and a long-range transportation plan.

Five city officials participated, including Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth, Longboat Key Mayor George Spoll, Holmes Beach Commissioner Carol Soustek and Tom Harmer, Longboat Key town manager.

The meeting began with a presentation by Burnett on the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition.

Burnett read some of the goals of the TBRRC, which stated the coalition “was formed to coordinate climate adaptation and mitigation activities across county lines” and to provide technical assistance and support to state and local agencies dealing with problems from climate change and sea level rise.

She said sea level tracking technology has improved, and data show the level is rising faster than initial projections.

“We need to do something sooner, rather than later,” she said. “There comes a tipping point, where if we wait we’ve waited too long.”

Burnett said working together as a region deemed one of the most vulnerable to sea level rise in the United States strengthens requests for federal grants.

“If we can pull together on a regional effort, then we have a much stronger voice,” she said.

Holmes Beach unanimously approved and signed the coalition memorandum of understanding May 14.

Manatee County also is a partner.

Chappie said Bradenton Beach has requested more information before agreeing to the joint effort.

Anna Maria also has not yet joined the coalition.

Burnett also spoke about a long-range transportation plan for the region, saying the topic ties in with the discussions on climate change and sea level rise.

“As we’re looking at our future transportation needs, keep in mind the resiliency piece of it as well,” she said.

Burnett said when considering alternative transportation, such as water taxis, people must think of supporting infrastructure.

Murphy said the coalition should address water taxis as public transportation.

He said for a water taxi to be successful, it must be affordable, adding that affordable transportation for service workers would help alleviate traffic congestion.

Spoll said connectivity, including parking, also is an issue.

Murphy suggested the coalition further discuss water taxis at the next BIEO meeting, and suggested an expert should speak on the matter.

Harmer said Longboat Key has a joint meeting June 13 with the city of Sarasota to discuss Sarasota’s plans for water taxis based on an ongoing feasibility study. He said he would report on the matter at the next BIEO meeting, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, in the chambers at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road.

“It’s a part of the overall picture and I think it’s a big part,” Soustek said of water taxis. “There’s a lot of research that’s been done, all we have to do is get everybody at the table.”