Cleanup 4 Earth. 16
ArtWalk ﬁnale. 13
Sunrise celebration. 22 APRIL 19, 2017 FREE
VOLUME 25, NO. 25
The Best News on Anna Maria Island Since 1992 AsTheWorldTerns preview Grassy Point. 6 New Bert Harris claim hits HB city hall. 3 DOT announces plans to relieve Cortez Road bottleneck. 4 BB approves DOT’s Gulf Drive project. 5
The Islander editorial, reader letters. 6
10-20 YEARS AGO
Remember when? 7
Loud noise raises concerns in BB. 8
On the government calendar. 8 County planners back mega development. 10
Community announcements, activities. 12
Make plans. 14-15 Eco-education. 21
Future bridge plans divulged
By Kathy Prucnell Islander Reporter The future of the bridge linking Cortez to Bradenton Beach is coming into focus. Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage vice president Jane von Hahmann reported April 10 on Florida Department of Transportation plans with potentially dire consequences to the village that was first settled in the late 1880s and on the National Register of Places since 1995. The two DoT moves include: • A plan aimed at solving the 119th Street bottleneck on Cortez Road West. • Apparent DOT leaning toward a 65-foot fixed-span Cortez Bridge. The road project and direction on the Cortez Bridge replacement also were announced by Manatee County Commissioner Steve Jonsson at the April 8 annual Cortez community picnic. Von Hahmann told FISH members at their annual election meeting that what was proposed as “safety improvements” at 119th Street could “literally shut down the village.” FISH is a 180-plus member nonprofit with a mission to protect its commercial fishing culture and the environment. As of April 14, DoT engineers say they PLeASe See DOT plans PAGe 4
Sgt. Robert Spurlock of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigates the April 12 crash on the south side of the Cortez Bridge as firefighter Tyler MacDonald stands by the West Manatee Fire Rescue engine. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Cortez Bridge head-on crash injures 3
No life-threatening injuries were reported in an April 12 head-on crash where the ramp meets the east side of Cortez Bridge. West Manatee Fire Rescue Lt. Nate Bergbom said emergency medical services took five people to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton. A family of four from Connecticut in a Nissan Rogue was traveling east over the bridge when an oldsmobile sedan attempted to pass another vehicle and struck the Nissan head-on, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office public information director Dave Bristow. Bernadeta Wilkins, 32, of North Port, was ticketed for careless driving, passing in a no-passing zone and wearing no seat belt after WMFR firefighters extricated her from
Grassy Point re-opens April 19
Holmes Beach recognizes officers. 24 Give Earth a chance. 27 Football playoffs. 28 Clear waters, tough fishing. 29
Business news, real estate sales. 30
Holmes Beach city officials will officially reopen Grassy Point Preserve, including new walkways leading to a scenic overlook of Anna Maria Sound, to the public at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19. Everyone is welcome. Islander Photo: Jack Elka
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the Oldsmobile, according to first responder reports. Bristow said three adults were injured but “nothing life-threatening.” The two children in the Nissan were not hurt, according to the MCSo report. Bradenton Beach Police Department controlled vehicle traffic at the bridge for about two hours. After the impact, the oldsmobile Alero pointed west in the eastbound lane and the Nissan Rogue faced east, also in the eastbound lane. — Kathy Prucnell
Turtle Watch hits the beach By ChrisAnn Silver esformes Islander Reporter “You all are the first responders, the ambassadors,” Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, said April 11 to more than 80 AMITW volunteers. The group was gathered at CrossPointe Fellowship in Holmes Beach for “Turtle Watch Spring Training,” a meeting led by Fox to prepare new volunteers and update veterans on new policies for the 2017 nesting season. During sea turtle nesting and hatchling season, which runs May 1-oct. 31, AMITW volunteers walk a designated 1-mile stretch of beach just after sunrise, looking for signs of nesting activity the night before and, later in the season, for hatchlings to emerge. When nests are discovered, they are staked for protection and monitored for data PLeASe See TUrTlEs PAGe 2
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Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers gather April 11 to pick up materials before a meeting at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
MORE: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch partners with high school for Earth Day project. Page 26 this season is comparable to the 2016 nesting season, there will be a lot of nests and verifying obvious nests would be a waste of time. “If you approach an area and can tell it’s definitely a nest, you don’t need to verify it,” Fox said. “We are going to have a lot of nests this year and need to focus on locating them.” Following the April 11 meeting, AMITW volunteer Bev Lesnick said she can’t wait to get started. Last season, her first as a volunteer, Lesnick saw a female loggerhead sea turtle nesting on a beach at sunrise, a rare experience. “Last year was truly amazing,” Lesnick said. “I can’t wait to see what this year holds.” For more information about AMITW, or to report a sick, injured or dead sea turtle, contact Fox at email@example.com or 941-778-5638.
Anna Maria Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteer Paula Clark, left, and executive director Suzi Fox prepare materials April 11 for turtle watch volunteers before a meeting at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
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TUrTlEs CoNTINueD FRoM PAGe 1 which goes to Manatee County and the state to track population and behavior trends. Fox kicked off the April 11 meeting and said volunteers would begin walking the beach April 15. She said the warmer winter may mean early nesting. “It’s all about temperature,” Fox said. “It just depends on how warm the water is.” Fox said there are some changes to the morning walk protocol this season. She said nests will be marked with three stakes instead of four and the stakes will be longer. Longer stakes are easier to locate and fewer stakes mean not as many to recover after a storm event, according to Fox. Fox also said volunteers are not to deal with possible code violations including unattended items or large holes on the beach. She said walkers should let her know so she can contact code enforcement officers to deal with the matter. Nesting sea turtles can become entangled in trash left on the beach or trapped under beach furniture and can fall into large holes. Adult female sea turtles only come ashore to nest then must return quickly to the water. Any impedance could be deadly. In the past, volunteers have taken time out of their morning survey walks to deal with issues that are the responsibility of city governments, according to Fox. “No more code work, nothing,” Fox said. “We are out there to look for nests, 100 percent.” She said 99 percent of the nests on the island are made by loggerhead sea turtles. However, occasionally other species, including green turtles, nest on island beaches. “After your first year, I expect you to know which species make which tracks, even if they are mostly loggerheads,” Fox told volunteers. “We do sometimes get green turtles here.” Additionally, Fox said volunteers are no longer required to verify nests, in most cases. Volunteers verify possible nests by digging into them to make sure there are eggs, before staking off the area. She said if
THE ISLANDER n April 19, 2017 n 3
New Bert Harris claim lands at city hall in Holmes Beach
By Kathy Prucnell Islander Reporter Add one more to the three dozen Bert Harris claims against the city of Holmes Beach alleging more than $14 million in damages. Filed April 11, the latest Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act claim comes from John and Suzette Buchan of Caledonia, Michigan. According to the claim, 7201 Gulf Drive has operated as a city-approved short-term rental and that, in 2015-16, the city changed the playing field by adopting ordinances limiting rental property to no more than two occupants per bedroom or a total of six, whichever is greater. The city adopted the ordinances in response to an outcry from residents blaming rental properties on problems, such as parking, noise, garbage and a change in the city’s residential character. The Buchans’ claim asserts $445,000 in damages, alleging the ordinances restrict their seven-bedroom rental accommodation, planned for 20 guests, to a lower occupancy. The claim attaches an appraisal from a licensed appraiser “demonstrating the loss from the actions of the city of Holmes Beach,” according to the Buchans’ attorney, Aaron Thomas of Najmy Thompson PL of The most recent Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act claim is filed by John and Suzette Buchan, owners of this home at 7201 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Sandy Ambrogi
Bradenton, who wrote the April 11 claim letter to the city. The city has 150 days from the date a claim is filed to respond, which, according to state statute, can be “no changes to the action of the governmental entity.” The city has responded to 12 Bert Harris pending claims and offered no changes. The next response letter is due in June. If not settled after the 150-day period, claimants can sue the city. Two Bert Harris court cases are pending against Holmes Beach. Longtime residents and owners of 7003 Holmes
Blvd., Bob and Ellen McCaffrey, filed a two-count complaint in January. The homeowners allege $106,000 in damages from six ordinances. They filed their claim after the city turned down their remodel plans. In March, the McCaffreys fought off a city dismissal motion. In the most recent case filed against Holmes Beach, the corporate owners of Swackhamer Investments VI, Bmeehan Investments VI and Kmeehan Investments allege $225,000 damages, citing inordinate burdens from six ordinances, including new building restrictions, enacted 2013-16.
Anna Maria residents discuss Florida bills
An April 6 Anna Maria City Commission meeting saw residents and commissioners discuss the future of two bills that could void the city’s vacation rental ordinance. House Bill 425 is in the last of three committees it needs to pass before reaching the House floor. Senate Bill 188 is in the Community Affairs committee, the second committee of three before reaching the Senate floor. The Senate bill was amended, but the change is not likely to affect Anna Maria, according to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy. On March 28, the bill was clarified as to the prohibition on legislating vacation rentals by ordinance adopted before June 2011, except to amend those laws to be less restrictive. Both bills were to be heard by committees Tuesday, April 18, after The Islander goes to print. Anna Maria residents Amy and Alan Tripp recently traveled to Tallahassee to lobby against the bills. Amy Tripp has led a grassroots campaign, collecting more than 500 signatures on a petition opposing the measure. The pair met with various legislative aides in Tallahassee. Tripp said she did not address the Senate Com-
munity Affairs committee April 3 because senators ran out the clock, postponing further discussion on the bill. Alan Tripp said senators did this to avoid voting on the bill. “This was described by every office as a hot bill,” he said. “Most of the senators seemed uninterested in making a statement.” Amy Tripp encouraged people to continue calling lawmakers to oppose the bills. – Bianca Benedí Anna Maria resident Alan Tripp addresses the commission April 6 with wife Amy Tripp. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí
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DOT announces plans for Cortez Road West bottleneck
By Kathy Prucnell Islander Reporter What began a year ago as a request from the four island mayors to solve the off-island traffic bottleneck at 119th Street and Cortez Road West — which frequently backs up vehicles to and from the beaches during season — turned into an evolving story the week before Easter. The bottom line is the Florida Department of Transportation will present options for what is labeled Cortez Road Safety Improvements at a public hearing 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at the Cortez Road Baptist Church, 4411 100th St. W., Bradenton. Mayors from Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key drafted a letter in March 2016 to officials of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, the DOT, Manatee County and other key agencies, requesting “low-hanging fruit” traffic solutions. David Gwynn, DOT director of operations, said April 14, in furtherance of that request, the department made an April 5 scenic highway joint presentation in Bradenton Beach, calling for elimination of the left turn onto 119th Street West from Cortez Road West. But 119th Street West provides access for two busy restaurants, the fishhouse docks and a boat repair business as well as the Florida Maritime Museum on the south side of Cortez Road. Gwynn called the April 5 plan “most likely unworkable” based on new data gathered the week of April 10. DOT officials also spoke to business proprietors on 119th Street West. Last week’s traffic study indicated a one-day count of 60 left turns from Cortez Road south onto 119th Street — four times the turns counted in 2014. “So, we have to look at that again,” Gwynn said, adding “a second thing that’s occurred.” The county is determining if it can convert the
A proposed realignment of 119th Street at Cortez Road West would veer through the county-owned Florida Maritime Museum property. Islander Graphic: Courtesy Jane von Hahmann
from 86th Street West to 123rd Street West. He said a median between 119th and 123rd streets would provide “lots of left turn options,” a pedestrian crossing and additional bike lanes. According to an April 14 Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization news release, the project is “generating controversy in the Cortez community.” The 119th Street options will be presented at the MPO board meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 24, at the Holiday Inn Sarasota/Bradenton, 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota.
New FISH directors elected
Jane von Hahmann, vice president of FISH, floats her ideas on the proposed realignment of 119th Street April 10 at the annual meeting. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell county-owned Florida Maritime Museum property into a right of way, he said. “Then what we would do is tie in a “plus (+) intersection,” Gwynn added. DOT’s backpedaling began soon after Manatee County Commissioner Steve Jonsson relayed the scenic highway presentation to Cortezians — attendees at the April 8 Cortez community picnic. Jonsson said, “I thought, this is a dumb idea,” adding he wanted to see what his Cortez constituents thought. He went to the event, where the picnickers agreed, “it’s not going to solve the problem, but make the problem worse.” Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage vice president Jane von Hahmann predicted an end to Cortez businesses April 10 if such a plan is carried out. Von Hahmann sketched her idea on a Google Earth aerial, aligning 119th Street through the Florida Maritime Museum property and presented it April 10 at the FISH meeting. Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore picked up on the Cortez controversy from David Zaccagnino, who distributed the von Hahmann plan from the Cortez meeting to some of his contacts. Whitmore said April 13 she had relayed it to county public works director Ron Schulhofer. April 10 the three options on the table were: • Leave the signal as is. • Remove the signal and restripe the roadway from the 119th south leg to the existing median east of the intersection as a two-way left turn lane. • Modify the signal to only control the northern leg. Upon completion of the south leg of 119th Street, turning would be restricted to right in/right out. The north leg would be designed to restrict to left out and right in/right out. Gwynn said the DOT has a $3.7 million budget for safety improvements in the Cortez Road West corridor
DOT plans continued from page 1 are looking several plans to remedy the staggered intersection — one proposed by Hahmann. To the members, and to DOT officials Chris Sella and David Wheeler after the meeting, Von Hahmann floated a plan to align 119th Street into a T-intersection by relocating the south leg through the Florida Maritime Museum county-owned property. “If it was set as a standard intersection with a dedicated right turn to go toward town,” von Hahmann wrote, “then the light could remain green for eastbound traffic until it was triggered” by a vehicle turning left, increasing time for traffic coming off the beach. Von Hahmann also spoke on the DOT leaning toward a 65-foot fixed span Cortez Bridge. “It’s our understanding that regardless of what we all thought was the No. 1 choice, the 35-foot bascule bridge —which seemed to be the voice of reason — they’re now going for a 65-foot fixed span,” she said. Von Hahmann predicted a loss of homes, busi-
nesses and the village if the larger bridge is constructed. DOT representatives presented drawings and spoke to each Manatee County commissioner individually the first two weeks of April. Faced with a proposal for a new Cortez Bridge in 1995, community leaders, including Mary Green, secured a place on the National Register of Historic Places for the village. Green was one of the founding members of FISH, which now supports the Cortez Village Historical Society and its cultural center on its 95-acre preserve, including restored uplands and saltern marsh. Cortez’ historic designation mandates federal oversight if federal funds are used in the district. According to the designation, 97 buildings are part of the district. Florida Department of Transportation operations director David Gwynn said the 119th Street/Cortez Road West are not part of the district. “I’m not sure on the bridge project,” he added.
FISH directors give it up for Cortez. Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage members April 10 voted in new members Tim Caniff and David Cadmus, and re-elected John Stevely, Rose Lipke and Linda Molto to the 15-member volunteer board. Stevely is a former University of Florida Sea Grant scientist, who organizes Dock Talks at the FISH-organized Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Lipke and Molto are artists and festival organizers. Caniff is a prior board member, beekeeper and 30-year fisher. Cadmus is a Cortez property owner. Both have volunteered for the fishing festival, according to board vice president Jane von Hahmann. The annual festival attracts thousands to the Cortez docks and boatyards in February for seafood, music and coastal educational activities. FISH holds annual elections for directors who serve staggered three-year terms. Treasurer Michael Northfield motioned the new directors’ acceptance. Plum Taylor seconded. A unanimous voice vote approved the motion. Cortez — a village with homes and businesses on waterfront between 119th Street and the Cortez Bridge — was settled in the 1880s by North Carolina fishers and their families. FISH supports the Cortez Village Historical Society and the Cortez Cultural Center, a 95-acre preserve, a boatworks program and legal efforts against developments, such as Aqua By the Bay and the Long Bar Pointe mitigation bank.
Longboat Key-Coquina shuttle launches
An on-call shuttle to bring Longboat Key residents to and from Anna Maria launched April 15. The service replaced the Longboat Key trolley and operates between Bay Isles on Longboat Key and Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. Manatee County Area Transit and Sarasota County Area Transit are collaborating on the service The one-way fare is $1.50. The shuttle will collect passengers from transit stops between Bay Isles and Coquina Beach and riders also can call to request what transit officials described as “curb-to-curb” service. “The Longboat Key Shuttle was developed in response to the desires of residents of Longboat Key,” MCAT division manager William P. Steele said in a news release. “Many residents voiced a desire for a more personalized on-demand, curbto-curb service that is more accessible for those who are elderly or have limited mobility. These sentiments were expressed in a meeting organized by the Aging in Paradise organization in January of 2016.” To use the service, passengers call 941-7452317 to reserve a trip by 5 p.m. the day before planned travel. A shuttle service vehicle will pick up and drop off passengers within the Longboat Key Shuttle service area. Multiple trips also can be arranged and prepaid fare cards can be purchased. At the Coquina Beach drop off, shuttle riders can connect with Anna Maria Island’s fare-free trolley and other transit services. SCAT will continue to operate Route 18 hourly between Bay Isles and downtown Sarasota.
THE ISLANDER n ApRIL 19, 2017 n 5
Bradenton Beach approves DOT improvements application
By ChrisAnn Silver esformes Islander Reporter A proposed multi-modal trail — shared roadway — in Bradenton Beach could help with ongoing drainage issues. At their April 6 meeting, Bradenton Beach commissioners and Mayor Bill Shearon approved submission of an application for funding to the Florida Department of Transportation for improvements on State Road 789 in Bradenton Beach. The commission unanimously approved a motion to accept and submit the application during an April 5 capital improvements meeting and put it on the consent agenda for its April 6 commission meeting. DoT-funded drainage and street improvements and plans for the multi-use bike-pedestrian-vehicle
DOT: New Cortez Bridge plans undetermined
For the Florida Department of Transportation, much work precedes the decision for which type of bridge to build. “Lochner can design any bridge that we ask them to design,” DoT spokesman Robin Stublen. “We do that all the time.” A Chicago-based company, Lochner, was hired by the DoT in March to design a replacement for the Cortez Bridge. Stublen says there are three options right now for the bridge. one option is a 35-foot drawbridge. Another option is a 65-foot-clearance fixed-span bridge. The third option is to refurbish the bridge. Considering the bridge’s age — it opened in 1957 — that’s probably not an option, Stublen said. But it’s one that they always have to include. A public hearing regarding a new Cortez Bridge has not yet been scheduled, Stublen said, but likely will be held in late summer. — Ed Scott
shared roadway also are underway in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach. The project would include drainage improvements on SR 789/Gulf Drive from the city border with Holmes Beach at 27th Street North to Longboat Pass. In the DoT application, city engineer Lynn Burnett wrote that improvements are necessary for the health, safety and welfare of people. The road is the evacuation route for Bradenton Beach and some areas flood during storm events, making certain areas of the corridor “virtually impassable” for cars and hazardous for cyclists and pedestrians, she wrote. It will accomplish the “foundation and framework” for the proposed multi-modal trail. “FDoT has said this project is their priority, the commitment is there,” Burnett said. The project includes installation of drainage infiltration systems along the east side of SR 789/Gulf Drive South from 13th Street North to the S-curve at Avenue C, along with a drainage project from eighth Street South to the S-curve. Additionally, the application includes concrete
aprons at the intersections of SR 789/Gulf Drive and 23rd Street North to 26th Street North. “These areas are shovel-ready,” Burnett said. Commissioner Ralph Cole said he is concerned about safety issues with a multi-use road. He said he would like separation between the lanes. Burnett said while these prioritized projects are ready to begin, other components will include public input. “If the bike trail is going to go on one side or two sides —those kinds of details in terms of the actual configuration of the corridor will be looked at in great detail once we get down the line,” Burnett said. She said the priority for the city is to get on the DoT funding calendar for the october 2017-September 2018 fiscal year. Cole thanked Burnett and said he now knows how to respond to his constituents’ concerns. “Just good to know it’s not written in stone,” Cole said. “Because they have had some definite worries.” The next city commission meeting will be at noon Thursday, April 20, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. Traffic circles the roundabout at the intersection of State Road 789/ Gulf Drive and Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
6 n ApRIL 19, 2017 n THE ISLANDER
Good news, bad news
There almost always is a little bit of good news to go with the bad news. This week, we are elated to see the gates opening to Grassy Point Preserve in Holmes Beach. The improvements, added shell trails and a wood boardwalk that skips under the mangrove canopy to reach out over the lush, green waters of Anna Maria Sound, are long awaited. We hope the gates will never close to this vast strand of public land that is so rich with wildlife and marine life that even an oldtimer on Anna Maria Island might have forgotten it existed. The final stretch of boardwalk crosses above the murky, rich waters with hanging branches and red mangrove roots planted in muck, opening up in the last 30 feet or so to the shallow waters of Anna Maria Sound, rich with swirling schools of mullet and the nursery for many species of marine life. It’s a vista that author John D. MacDonald often described in his novels, but few of his mystery admirers and dreamers experience. My first visit to Grassy Point instantly reminded me of MacDonald’s prose — the rich words and strong demands he wove into his novels to save the real Florida from developers. In books like “Flash of Green,” “Deep Blue Goodbye,” “Barrier Island” and 70 or more titles, he detailed places in Florida I could only yearn to visit. And he yearned to save Florida. He was a vigorous critic with a stinging opinion of developers — the type we see now hoping to ravage the shoreline of Sarasota Bay. MacDonald would have sunk his teeth into the plot that has evolved around Longbar Point like a dog with a bone. He wouldn’t let this area of the bay go down without a fight. Find yourself a copy of “Flash of Green.” More than the sunset phenomenon, it’s a story of small town corruption, greed and scoundrels trying to turn an area of beauty on the bayfront into piles of money. So when you walk out to the tip of the boardwalk at Grassy Point and admire the morning sunrise or the fish jumping or the shade of the mangrove canopy, think about how Longbar Point — now named Aqua By The Bay and destined for shoreline destruction — can be saved. It’s not unreasonable to expect a win for the environment — if we want something to remain of the real Florida for our children and grandchildren. Keep the gates open. — Bonner Joy
APRIL 19, 2017 • Vol. 25, No. 25 ▼ ▼
Publisher and Editor Bonner Joy, firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Lisa Neff, copy editor Sandy Ambrogi, email@example.com Bianca Benedí, firstname.lastname@example.org Joe Bird, editorial cartoonist Kevin Cassidy, email@example.com Jack Elka, firstname.lastname@example.org ChrisAnn Silver Esformes, email@example.com Susan Huppert Kathy Prucnell, firstname.lastname@example.org Ed Scott, email@example.com Jennifer Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Jesse Brisson Karen Riley-Love Capt. Danny Stasny, ﬁsh@islander.org Advertising Director Toni Lyon, email@example.com Office Staff Lisa Williams, manager Janice Dingman firstname.lastname@example.org classiﬁeds@islander.org email@example.com Distribution Urbane Bouchet Judy Loden Wasco Ross Roberts (All others: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Stoppers for the birds
I read with interest Lisa Neff’s column about the noticeable decline of mockingbirds on the island (The Islander, March 22). I think I have the solution: Plant stoppers in every Anna Maria Island yard. Stoppers — myrcianthes fragrans — are graceful native shrubs with small leaves, fragrant flowers and berries that are coveted by mockingbirds. Native Americans marketed the berries to manage diarrhea — hence the euphemistic name “stopper.” once the stopper shrubs next to our patio bore fruit, a mockingbird couple promptly arrived on-site to supervise the plants. Right before the berries on the stopper bushes reached perfect ripeness, the birds impolitely asked us to vacate the chairs next to the bushes. I was pleased my husband rather than I underwent extreme vetting by the birds and was the first to be deported. Cowering inside the house, we watched the mockingbirds harvest the entire crop of berries in a few days. We look forward to watching them harvest the next crop of berries and are taking appropriate precautions, since we are already on the mockingbird security watchlist. We encourage others to replace even a few nonnative plants with the wonderful salt-tolerant stoppers. The mockingbirds will soon be paying you a visit. Claudia Carlson, Holmes Beach
on behalf of the Women’s Resource Center, I would like to thank the wonderful island women who donated clothing, shoes, sweaters, jewelry, etc., March 11 at Duffy’s Tavern in Holmes Beach. I salute you. We collected so much in four hours for the Career Closet — for women looking for jobs — and the
A stopper bush attracts mockingbirds. Islander Courtesy Photo unique Boutique — which sells a lot of the clothes to benefit the WRC programs to help women in need in Manatee County. Grateful thanks to Duffy’s, which gave us the space on a very busy day — and does so each year. Denise Johnson, Holmes Beach
Music behind walls
Many thanks to Bradenton Beach Police Officer Steven Masi for his much-needed help with the Bridge Street loud music problem. This is basically a residential neighborhood and a very expensive neighborhood. on April 2 at 6 p.m. I heard what sounded like engines starting up. When the roaring continued, I went to investigate. The noise was a musician at Island Time Bar and Grill with amplifiers that could be heard three blocks away. Please, keep the music indoors. Island Time, build walls. Bridge Street doesn’t need this image. Eileen Suhre, Bradenton Beach
THE ISLANDER n ApRIL 19, 2017 n 7
‘It was this big’
Jim Gray III shows the snook he caught in local waters June 13, 1980. One record referred to the fish as 811 pounds and another record referred to the snook as 81 pounds, which would top today’s world record for snook. Islander Photo: Courtesy Manatee County Public Library
The sounds of our city
Recently I had the not so wonderful experience of being awakened by the unrelenting partying of the tourists next door. This happened at 1:30 a.m. I have impact thermopane windows and other items in my bedroom that should block out all noise outside of my bedroom. I’m now supposed to call the police and complain? I don’t want to do this because I know it will mean I will not sleep the rest of the night, it will merely exacerbate my current anger. How do I deal with this very emotional reoccurring situation? All the next week my mind runs on how the city can deal with this issue. Why, I just finished helping to rewrite a portion of the land development code to prevent some of this problem. It’s not going to help very much. I sat at my bedroom window, open and closed, for
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hours this week with a decibel meter. The code says you can’t have sound greater than 65 decibels cross your property line after 10 p.m. — there is no daytime rating. My neighbor’s home and screened porch is about 25 feet from my bedroom window. Normal conversation is at times above 65 decibels. The average being 71 decibels. Add the swimming pool, which is 18 feet away from my bedroom window and 3 feet from the property line, and even a quiet discussion below 65 decibels is enough to put you in the middle of the conversation. So for me to have any privacy, I must live with my windows closed. Reed Mapes, Bradenton Beach Editor’s note: To read the full version of this letter, please, go online to islander.org.
All editions of the newspaper — since 1992 — can be found online in the university of Florida Digital Newspaper Collection at ufdc.ufl.edu.
We’d love to mail you the news!
10&20 years ago
In the headlines: April 16, 1997
• The Anna Maria Island Community Center’s An Affair to Remember raised a record $62,675 for the nonprofit. • Mote Marine Laboratory was involved in the release of 7,500 hatchery-raised juvenile snook to enhance the population in Sarasota Bay. The release took place as Mote issued a call for people on the water to report if they caught one of the tagged fish. • A 12-year-old boy riding his unlighted bicycle home at night was stopped for the third time by a deputy in Anna Maria. This time the boy was given a $26 traffic ticket — and fingerprinted. Two other kids in Anna Maria were ticketed and fingerprinted for “illegal towing” — which involved kids riding on bike handlebars.
In the headlines: April 18, 2007
• Law enforcement officials were meeting to discuss how to keep the peace on the beaches on Cinco de Mayo after gang-related shootings took place at Coquina Beach on easter Sunday. • Anna Maria residents told their city commissions they opposed a proposal to purchase property at 703 N. Shore Drive for a botanical garden and pocket park. They complained that the park would bring more traffic, more crime and destroy the “old Florida” character of their neighborhood. • Holmes Beach officials were reviewing ordinances for compliance with state regulations protecting the live-aboard lifestyle. Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, referring to the city ordinance prohibiting people from living on their boats, said, “We have an ordinance we can’t enforce.”
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8 n ApRIL 19, 2017 n THE ISLANDER
Bradenton Beach noise raises questions, call to action
By ChrisAnn Silver esformes Islander Reporter Live music is playing to an audience in Bradenton Beach that is a driving force for change. Recently, noise concerns in the city have escalated and the city commission has added a discussion of the noise ordinance to the agenda for its April 20 meeting. Live entertainment at the Freckled Fin Restaurant, 101 Bridge St., resulted in nine complaints to the city from April 2016 through March 21, 2017. The most recent complaint, April 5, led to owner Scott Lubore’s arrest for a misdemeanor noise violation — the first known in the history of the city. “The establishment had been warned verbally, given numerous violations and warned again that we would arrest the person in charge the next time this happened,” Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said during an April 13 department head meeting. “We have the right within our ordinance to do this and enough was enough.” A call to action posted April 14 on Facebook by Freckled Fin co-owner eileen Lubore reads, “If the noise ordinance is not modified and they continue to arrest managers and/or owners as has been stated, unfortunately outdoor music in BB will cease to exist.” earlier in April, Bradenton Beach resident eileen Suhre, who resides on Church Avenue, adjacent to the live music venues on Bridge Street, spoke at a commission meeting about excessive volume. She said the assigned decibel limits for the city, per the noise ordinance, are not sufficient. “Let’s get rid of that and create our own control,”
Bradenton Beach resident Eileen Suhre addresses city commissioners April 6 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes Suhre said. When asked about the flexibility within the ordinance to amend the accepted decibel limits, Speciale responded in an April 13 email, “It’s set by the city and the city can change it.” Speciale said owners of live music venues on Bridge Street recently expressed concerns with decibel limits in the ordinance. He said he told them the ordinance was adopted in 2013 and the city has not
had many problems with it, until now. The city also is considering tackling the issue through changes to its land development code. Amendments proposed by the Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board would increase space between homes and limit structure size for new construction, limiting the number of people a structure can hold. P&Z member Reed Mapes said he does not know if the proposed changes will make a difference. “We’ve got a noise problem and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it,” Mapes said April 12. He said changes to the LDC will help, smaller houses will lead to less people, but the responsibility rests with the owners and rental agents to make sure people know their vacation rentals are adjacent to residents’ homes. He said the agents could threaten fines or place limits on pool time to persuade guests to keep it down. Mapes said he has multiple noise-blocking sound machines in his bedroom, but noise frequently exceeds decibel levels through his soundproof windows. “It’s not our job to police the area,” Mapes said. Speciale agrees. Speciale said he wants people to call the BBPD when they hear excessive noise. “We want to be the ones dealing with it, not the angry neighbors,” Speciale said April 13. “The people causing problems aren’t going to mess with us and create bigger problems.” The city commission will be discussing the noise ordinance during its next meeting at noon Thursday, April 20, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.
Holmes Beach imposes timeline on Ugly Grouper improvements By Jennifer Sheppard Islander Reporter When Holmes Beach commissioners approved a revised site plan for the ugly Grouper in February, there was no time frame for the restaurant to complete its proposed improvements. “I think we made a mistake,” Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said April 13 at a work session. “There’s no deadlines.” When commissioners voted Feb. 14 to approve a revised site plan for the restaurant at 5704 Marina Drive, they included two special exceptions, one for off-site shared parking and the other for limited amplified outdoor music. The special exception for outdoor amplified music included conditions for an outdoor stage equipped with noise-attenuating features and an automatic sound cutoff to control the amplified music, according to the resolution adopted Feb. 16. However, Titsworth said the city should have put these conditions on a timeline. “We didn’t even think about the fact that … they could take their merry old time,” Titsworth said. City attorney Patricia Petruff told commissioners to decide how strict they’re going to enforce their resolution. “Arguably, anything that’s happening over there that’s not in compliance with this resolution is a matter for code enforcement,” Petruff said. A letter from restaurant owner Mike Ross received by the city April 13 lists conditions to be met, including an additional 45 days before applying for the permit to relocate the soundstage. “The design of the new stage is underway and we expect it to be submitted for a building permit within the next 45 days,” the letter states. “once that permit is issued, we will complete the work in earnest and demolish the old stage.” Petruff said the commission has the option of giving the restaurant owners a grace period to complete the remaining conditions. “I think you can say if you don’t do all of this by whatever date you choose … then we will start issuing citations through the code enforcement process,” Petruff said. “If the music’s too loud, then it’s a violation.” Building official Jim McGuinness said he thought PLeASe See UGlY GrOUpEr, NexT PAGe
Improvements to the Ugly Grouper, 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, must be completed 60 days from April 13. Plans call for an outdoor soundstage equipped with noiseattenuating features and an automatic cutoff over certain sound levels to control intrusive amplified music. Islander Photo: Jennifer Sheppard
West Manatee fire rescue • April 20, 6 p.m., commission. WMFR administration building, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton, wmfr.org.
anna Maria City • April 27, 6 p.m., city commission. • May 9, 4 p.m., planning and zoning. • May 11, 6 p.m., city commission. Manatee County • May 25, 6 p.m., city commission. • April 25, 9 a.m., county board. Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, 941• May 1, 2 p.m., county board (work). 708-6130, cityofannamaria.com. • May 4, 9 a.m., county board (land use). • May 9, 9 a.m., county board. Bradenton Beach • May 23, 9 a.m., county board. • April 19, 1 p.m., planning and zoning. • May 30, 1:30 p.m., county board (budget pre• April 20, noon, city commission. sentation). • April 25, 1 p.m., city commission. Administration building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., • April 26, 1 p.m., planning and zoning. CAN- Bradenton, 941-748-4501, mymanatee.org. CeLeD Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., Of interest 941-778-1005, cityofbradentonbeach.org. • April 19, Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials, Holmes Beach City Hall. Holmes Beach •April 24, 9:30 a.m., Sarasota/Manatee Metro• April 25, 6 p.m., city commission. politan Planning organization, Holiday Inn Saraso• April 27, 11:30 a.m., police retirement ta-Bradenton International Airport, 8009 15th St. e., board. Sarasota. • April 27, 6 p.m., city commission. • May 17, 2 p.m., Coalition of Barrier Island • May 3, 10 a.m., parks and beautification com- Elected Officials, Longboat Key Town Hall. mittee. • May 29, Memorial Day, most government Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, offices will be closed. The Islander office also will 941-708-5800, holmesbeachfl.org. be closed. Send notices to email@example.com.
THE ISLANDER n ApRIL 19, 2017 n 9
Hop, hop, hop ... the Easter Bunny hops into Anna Maria …
Islander Photo: Hope Yencho
A crowd of young and old follow the Easter Bunny. Islander Photo: Hope Yencho
The April 15 parade on Pine Avenue led by the Easter Bunny takes the crowd from the Sandbar Restaurant on Spring Avenue to an Easter egg roll, Easter bonnet contest, games, coloring and face-painting. Islander Courtesy Photo
Kids and parents line up on the beachfront April 15 to participate in Sandbar Restaurant’s 31st annual Easter egg hunt at 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. Islander Photos: Courtesy Sandbar Restaurant
Key Club helps with Kiwanis Sunrise Service
UGlY GrOUpEr CoNTINueD FRoM PAGe 8 the design of the stage was in progress and he expected to see the soundstage permit application long before now. Code enforcement officer JT Thomas said once the commission decides what action to take, he would try to visit the restaurant every other day to keep an eye on the improvements. “Whenever we show presence, they seem to listen,” Thomas said. “Whenever we step back and we wait, they’re falling into violations. I don’t want to back them into a violation.” Thomas said he tried to take a decibel reading before the April 13 meeting and the ambient noise was louder than the music. “As soon as we’re there and they see our presence,
they stay right where they need to be,” he said. Commissioners unanimously reached a consensus on a 45-day deadline for the soundstage, based on McGuinness’ recommendations, and 60 days to complete the improvements. “The stage is conceptually designed and if you’re motivated, you can get a lot done,” McGuinness said. Commissioners directed McGuinness to draft a letter with Mayor Bob Johnson’s approval for a specific timeline to complete the improvements, after which code enforcement would begin enforcement. The commission will meet next at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
LEFT and ABOVE: Students from the State College of Florida Collegiate Key Club gather early at the Manatee Public Beach to assist with the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island’s 53rd annual Easter Sunrise Service. Key Club members walked the crowd with donation buckets after the service. The donations from the Easter service — more than $7,000 this year — are divided equally by the Kiwanis Club among the island’s churches. Islander Photos: Jack Elka
10 n April 19, 2017 n THE ISLANDER
Bayfront mega project gets county planners’ nod
By Kathy Prucnell Islander Reporter Manatee County planning commissioners voted 3-2 April 13 to recommend a large-scale mixed-use development along more than 2 miles of Sarasota Bay shoreline southeast of Cortez and Anna Maria Island. The action moves approval of Aqua By The Bay — 2,894 homes, 78,000 square feet of commercial space, 13- and five-story buildings, a 2-mile lagoon and seawalls — to the county commission. The county board will consider the Long Bar Pointe LLLP and Cargor Partners VIII general development plan and a 191-acre rezone at its land use meeting at 9 a.m. May 4. As part of the 529-acre site, the Carlos BeruffLarry Lieberman entities hope to run a 260-acre mitigation bank that needs state and federal permits — but county attorney Sarah Schenk told commissioners they were not to consider the bank. Thirteen people spoke against the plan, including Cortez-based Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage directors Jane von Hahmann, Linda Molto and John Stevely, Capt. Kathe Fannon, and Fishing for Freedom members Thomas Reynolds and Mark Coarsey. Fannon spoke of the seahorses, starfish, conch and other marine life she sees in the bay near the proposed development and implored commissioners to reject the plan, saying, “Let’s stand up for old Florida.” “Nobody has once asked me to take them to see a high-rise,” she said. Von Hahmann warned, “Sea rise is happening.” The 50-foot wetland buffers should be retained and potential impacts of tidal exchange, flow and storm surge determined, she said. She called the 145-foot building height “beyond comprehension.” Von Hahmann asked the development be held to the same standards as Peninsula Bay and Lakewood Ranch and called for denial “until we fully understand
Cortez Capt. Kathe Fannon urges plan commissioners to deny developer Carlos Beruff his bid to develop amid marine life on the mangrove-lined shores of Sarasota Bay.
Anna Maria approves dredge work, looks ahead
Anna Maria commissioners approved April 7 a contract for dredging the Lake LaVista canal. The total project cost is estimated at $150,610. According to city engineer Lynn Burnett, the canal has not been dredged for at least two years. Under the agreement, West Coast Inland Navigation District will dredge the canal by “piggybacking” off a 2013 bid for work in Fort Lauderdale. Florida laws allows companies that bid successfully for one municipality to bypass the process in another municipality. The work will be done at the end of June. In other business, Mayor Dan Murphy said he is seeking project estimates from Wantman Group Inc., the winning bidder for and engineering study on the city pier. Murphy said he still needs a timeline for the project and an estimated cost. Murphy said he will meet with WGI representatives April 13. — Bianca Benedí
Flanked by Medallion Home president Pete Logan and his attorney, Ed Vogler, developer Carlos Beruff watches the April 13 planning commission hearing on his application for Aqua By The Bay. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
all the impacts.” Molto pleaded with commissioners to save the scenic beauty of the bay. As commercial fishermen, Reynolds asked for the commissioners to consider “all those little fish,” their migration and nurturing, and Coarsey called the pristine mangrove-lined shoreline “our last stand.” Also registering comments against Aqua By The Bay were representatives from the Sierra Club, Manatee-Sarasota Group, Suncoast Waterkeepers and the League of Women Voters of Manatee County. Only one comment favored the development. A woman who failed to sign a speaker card asked commissioners to consider jobs, employment and taxes. “Large projects are never perfect,” Commissioner Tim Rhoades said before the vote. He credited the developers for making changes, trusted the plan because “many reputations were at stake” and didn’t object to its compatibility. Commissioner Matt Bower questioned the 145foot and 75-foot building heights. Bower criticized planner Stephanie Moreland’s comparison of Aqua’s height “compatibility” with the approved Lake Flores plan’s 95-foot-tall buildings. “Correct me if I’m wrong,” but no buildings in Lake Flores “are on the coastline.” And “they’re closer to Cortez Road,” Bower said. Commissioner Albert Horrigan Jr. asked about dredging and docks with regard to the gaping 100foot stretch of untouched shoreline. Dredging is prohibited under the Manatee County Comprehensive Plan. “Why would you want docks if you can’t dredge?” Horrigan questioned. The county attorney said the county can’t force them not to plan or request docks. Planning Commissioner Mike Rahn motioned for Aqua’s approval and it received a second by Commissioner John DeLesline. Rahn, DeLesline and Rhoades voted yes. Bower and Horrigan voted no. Absent for the planning commission vote were William Conerly and Paul Rutledge.
Plan approval was contingent on county staff stipulations, including a requirement state permits be obtained before development is commenced and the submittal of “overall layouts for the entire project” with future site plans. The rezoning request includes 39 acres from single-family to planned development, 22 acres from agricultural to planned development and 130 acres from planned development and agricultural to mixed use. For the developers, attorney Scott Rudacille of Blalock Walters said the plan was compliant with the land development code and comp plan. The developers’ team touted the benefits of engineering stormwater runoff, only 13 acres of wetland impacts and the need for permits. Developer attorney Ed Vogler predicted a 20-year build-out. He disputed the hundreds of comments made in opposition to the plan. Stevely, a retired University of Florida Sea Grant scientist, told the commissioners: “You can’t dismiss the comments as misperceptions.” “There’s real problems with this plan,” he added, both with the hydrology and ecology.
Stuart Smith, representing the Sierra Club and Suncoast Waterkeepers, hands off a petition signed by more than 1,000 people opposing Aqua By The Bay.
ITPO previews MPO transportation plans
By Bianca Benedí Islander Reporter The Island Transportation Planning Organization heard a proposal April 10 to remedy traffic issues on Cortez Road at 119th Street West. The Florida Department of Transportation determined recently the intersection is a hazard, and proposed a redesign. The proposal includes the addition of bike lanes, a median running between 119th and 121st streets, Americans with Disabilities Act modifications and a high-friction treatment to the street asphalt to prevent skidding. However, the DOT’s plan has produced controversy in Cortez. (See related story, page 4.) At the ITPO meeting, DOT project manager David Jones said the goal is to reduce crashes and accidents on Cortez Road. According to the DOT, 77 crashes, primarily rear-end crashes, have occurred on Cortez Road in five years. In addition, he said, the DOT has received complaints about the intersection and requests for the organization to take action for several years. Jones said by changing the intersection and adding
a median, the DOT could reduce crashes and improve traffic flow. Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon commended the DOT for taking action that the island community had been requesting for years. “It’s not working now,” he said. “I strongly believe we need to do something. … I commend you for not only looking at it, but doing something about it.” Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Chappie raised concerns about the median, pointing out the DOT was relying on 3-year-old data. Jones said a public hearing on the project is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Cortez Road Baptist Church, 4411 100th St. W., Bradenton. At the ITPO meeting, DOT representative Jesten Abraham also delivered an update on a barrier island traffic study with Stantec. Abraham said the cost will be $942,405, just under the $945,000 cost announced at a March 13 meeting. Abraham said phase 2 of the study began in January and will be completed in mid-2018, however, “we could be finishing phase 2 at the end of the year,” Abraham said.
THE ISLANDER n April 19, 2017 n 11
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