The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 28 - April 13, 2011


Panel hears cell tower proposals

ANNA MARIA – An ad hoc committee of Community Center board members heard two cell tower proposals Friday after the city made a request to allow a cell tower to be built at the Center.

Committee members are board attorney Scott Rudacille, board chair Greg Ross, Blair Schlossberg, Jason Sato and Randy Langley. Sato was absent due to illness.

The first presentation was by Stacy Frank, a cell tower developer who lives in the city. Frank said she has been an attorney for 28 years with a specialty in real estate. She said she represented a communications company before deciding to become a cell tower developer in 2005-06.

"I represent the property owner," she said. "My concern is locking carriers in and designing the pole so it is most pleasing."

Frank said she could do a profit share, a fixed lease agreement or a hybrid and noted, "I'm flexible."

The second presentation was by Jim Eatrides, of Alpha-Omega Communications, and Kevin Barile, of Ridan Industries. Eatrides said he does site development for communications sites, and Barile said he has been a tower developer for 15 years.

"We're looking at a win for the community in getting coverage, a win for you as a partner land owner, third for the carriers and last for us," Eatrides said.

They offered a lease agreement only, but Barile added, "We're flexible. We can do a lump sum payment up front, but most owners want to maximize their monthly recurring revenue."

Both said there could be up to six carriers on a tower, the tower could be a monopole or a flagpole and everything would be inside the pole. Frank said a flagpole has a greater diameter.

Both said there are several options for location on the property. Frank said the tower should be 60 or 70 feet above the tree line – 10 feet for each carrier. Barile said it should be 90 feet above the tree line plus 10 feet for each carrier or 150 feet.

The space needed for the equipment at the base would be from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet, and it would be elevated, so the space underneath could be used. Both said the tower would be designed to collapse in on itself.

Frank said if they did profit sharing, they could get $24,000 per carrier per year, of which the Center would get $12,000.

Eatrides and Barile said the lump sum up front payment would be $150,000, and the monthly payment would be $1,000 or 20 percent of the gross revenue.

The committee did not set a second meeting date.

Another slice of success for Andrea Spring
Carol Whitmore

Andrea Spring (in orange) holds up her blue ribbon
with other winners in the American Pie Council -
Crisco Pie Championship.

Sign of the Mermaid co-owner Andrea Spring took honors in two categories of this year's American Pie Council - Crisco Pie Championship in Orlando over the weekend and for her, competing and winning are becoming an annual event.

Andrea took first place in the raisin pie category with her two-layer, Hazel Nut and Pumpkin Cream Phas flourless cake bottom and top layers with a chocolate crust.

When asked if she might make the first-place pie for customers at the Sign of the Mermaid, she said there is a problem.

"Pumpkin is so seasonal, I can't guarantee I can make it year-'round," she said. "I might make it for customers around Thanksgiving."

The winner of the best overall award went to a first-time competitor who whipped up something to celebrate the upcoming British Royal wedding. She was asked how it felt to compete with essentially the same people every year.

"It's fun because one year one person wins and the next, somebody else," she said. "We enjoy the competition among ourselves and we cheer the winner."

This is Andrea's fifth year of competing and the only year she did not take a prize was 2009. Her Key Lime pie took best overall in 2007 and she also took first place with her Chocolate Express Explosion. The next year, she took first place with her Key West Crunch Pie and won an honorable mention for her Apple Oatmeal Crunch Pie.

Desserts at the Sign of the Mermaid are as legendary as the food, and Andrea makes sure they stay that way. She said the competition is both fun and good for the family business.

"The competition and publicity I get from it has helped the restaurant," she said.

Her next step is a competition on her own turf.

"I would like to organize a pie contest on the Island," she said. "It would be fun to see what recipes people come up with."

She said it could have pro and amateur categories so that residents could compete as well as and she got second place for her classic Black Forest Cherry Pie with a neo-classic touch.

Bills would impact local rental rules


Identical bills under consideration by the Florida House and Senate could prohibit local governments from regulating or banning vacation rentals unless they already have those ordinances in effect.

The proposal would prohibit municipalities from treating vacation rentals including condominiums and single family homes - differently than residential property, forcing them to allow short-term rentals wherever residential uses are permitted, according to Allison Payne of the Florida League of Cities.

Under the bill, a city could not impose a seven-day minimum rental restriction on rental property, said attorney Lisa Magill of law firm Becker and Poliakoff.

Local ordinances such as those in Holmes Beach that place seven-day and 30-day minimums on rental property in different zoning districts, would be grandfathered in under an amendment filed last week, said Florida League of Cities lobbyist Casey Cook.

But cities without such ordinances would not be able to pass new laws responding to citizen complaints that short-term renters hold noisy parties, leave piles of trash out on the wrong days, park in prohibited areas and disrupt neighborhood life, Magill said.

Short-term renters also cause most of the violations of sea turtle and nesting bird protection regulations, because they're not here long enough to learn that no lights may be visible from the beach and no furniture is allowed on the beach at night between May 1 and Oct. 31, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox.

Bradenton Beach does not have an ordinance regulating minimum rental stays, according to City Clerk Nora Idso.

"For goodness sake, whatever happened to home rule?" Mayor Bob Bartelt said.

Anna Maria does not have a minimum rental restriction ordinance either, Mayor Mike Selby said, adding that it's difficult to balance a neighbor's complaints against a property owner's need for rental income.

"I believe in home rule," said Manatee County Commissioner and Tourist Development Council member Carol Whitmore, adding that the county has no minimum rental ordinance. "I don't believe the state should be telling Manatee County what to do."

The bill received a favorable vote on April 7 in the House Economic Affairs Committee, with local Rep. Jim Boyd voting in favor. Boyd was not available for comment.

The bill is scheduled for committee hearings this week. If approved, the legislation would become effective July 1.

Oil claims continue a year later

Next week's one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster marks a deadline for those planning to sue the rig owner and another day of recordkeeping for those making claims against the operator.

The April 20, 2010 explosion of the oil rig, owned by Transocean under contract to British Petroleum (BP), caused 11 deaths and leaked oil into the Gulf of Mexico until July 15.

While oil did not reach the shores of Anna Maria Island, tourists stayed away from beaches around the state after oil washed up on Florida Panhandle beaches.

Federal closures in the Gulf kept local commercial fishermen at the dock and caused the cancellation of recreational fishing tournaments. Seafood producers scrambled to prove product safety.

Emergency managers fine-tuned plans to protect local waters with booms. Scientists began baseline water testing for later comparison.

Wildlife rescuers prepared for bird, turtle and marine mammal rescue missions. Protestors twice lined the Island's beaches wearing black.

And, like the oil gushing into the Gulf, damage claims and lawsuits began pouring in.

BP claimants getting paid

More than 173,000 Floridians have filed claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which took over claims administration from BP last August. About 76 percent of the claims are from businesses and 24 percent are from individuals, according to the GCCF.

As of April 7, BP paid about $1.5 billion in Florida claims and about $3.8 billion in total claims from its $20 billion fund.

The deadline has passed to file a claim for an "emergency advance payment," but claims still can be filed until Aug. 23, 2013 for a "full review final payment claim" for all past and future losses caused by the spill or an "interim payment claim" for all past losses caused by the spill.

Jim Brady, owner of the West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach, said he is satisfied with the claims process, and has received emergency payments and interim payments in a timely manner.

He filed his first claim in November at the GCCF's Clearwater office and supplied income tax and sales tax records to show the difference in profits before and after the spill.

The payments are between 70 to 100 percent of the claimed losses, depending on economic factors, he said.

He encourages other business owners to file, saying, "You have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Another longtime Island retailer who did not want to be identified also complimented the claims process.

"They were very good to us. They responded very quickly," she said. "They tell you what they want and if you have the proper documentation they pay it."

Ken Gerry, manager of White Sands Beach Resort in Holmes Beach, considered filing when guests began calling and asking whether oil had hit local beaches, but his occupancy stayed consistent, so it was not necessary, he said.

Jason Suzor, of the Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria, said he is considering filing, pending the completion of his income tax return.

Claims with no records denied

One local business owner said his claim was denied.

Wavesplash Watersports at the Bradenton Beach Marina had just opened when the oil spill occurred. Co-owner Louis Mandel filed a claim with BP, then had to refile when the GCCF took over. After answering several requests for more information, he was told his documentation was insufficient.

"Maybe it was because we weren't in business long enough" to prove a loss, he said, adding that he used the claims process rather than hire an attorney who would deduct fees and costs from any recovery.

Startup businesses are more closely scrutinized by the GCCF, said Justin Bloom, a Sarasota attorney representing oil spill clients from Louisiana to Florida, who visited Cortez after the spill to offer his services to fishermen.

Employees also are having problems getting claims paid, he said, adding that restaurant workers and motel cleaning staff often do not have the required records that their employers have.

"The most difficult thing is to get financial records in order," he said. "We've been asking for hardship letters from employers to help employees. The longer they wait, the harder it is to get that."

Business owners and individuals interested in filing claims should compile income tax returns, occupancy, sales or income figures for the past three years, mitigation efforts, cancelled contracts and financial statements.

To file a claim online, visit

Litigation deadline looming

When the claims process fails, a lawsuit is an alternative.

"Our plan is to settle in the GCCF, and if we don't get a good resolution then we'll litigate," Bloom said.

Anyone who intends to sue Transocean for Deepwater Horizon-related losses has until April 20 to file a form preserving their claim against Transocean, Bloom said, adding that the company is not participating in the BP fund administered by the GCCF.

Lawsuit issues will include claims for medical losses and long-term commercial fishing losses arising from human and marine life exposure to oil and chemical dispersants, as well as potential damage to beaches by oil stirred up by future hurricanes, he said.

According to Transocean's 2010 annual report to shareholders, dated April 1, 2011, "It remains our view that Transocean is contractually indemnified against all claims stemming from the environmental and economic impacts of the hydrocarbons spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon."

Nine of the 11 crew members who died in the disaster were Transocean employees.

For more information about the Transocean litigation, contact a lawyer or visit

City, county come to Kingfish agreement


HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Rich Bohnenberger announced Thursday, April 7, that he and Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker have come to an agreement regarding lighting at Kingfish Boat Ramp.

The city had objected to the county's plan to install 11 lights on 40-foot high poles at the ramp area. Bohnenberger wrote Hunzeker on March 9 requesting that the county submit a site plan and obtain a permit from the city for the work, but county officials said they didn't need a permit.

Bohnenberger said he met with Hunzeker on April 5 and learned that Florida Department of Transportation lighting standards did not apply to Kingfish, which is on DOT property, but was annexed into the city.

"We discussed possible alternatives and agreed the number of proposed lights was not necessary," Bohnenberger said. "It was further agreed that the contractor would apply for a permit from the city of Holmes Beach."

In a letter to Bohnenberger on April 6, Hunzeker wrote, "It is our intent to install lighting that meets the operational and safety needs of those who wish to use the boat ramp. As pointed out in your letter, the city's review process must utilize the Manatee County Land Development Code."

Hunzeker said the county Planning Division Manager John Osborne determined that the county would not require a site plan, but would require a permit. He said the county's lighting contractor, American Lighting and Signalization Inc., would be directed to apply for a city building permit.

"We will work closely with you and your staff to ensure that the lighting at Kingfish Boat Ramp complies with building code requirements, meets applicable health and safety standards and satisfies the community's desires," Hunzeker concluded.

"There will be continuing dialogue with the county regarding the lighting prior to permitting," Bohnenberger said.

Hunsicker says Island needs protection
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A front end loader owned by Great Lakes Dock and Dredge
lays pipe in the Gulf of Mexico for Anna Maria Island's
renourishment project, which will add sand to
more than 5,000 feet of beach.

The renourishment projects under way and scheduled for this year will set the stage for an all inclusive coating of the Island's beaches in four years that will help protect the beaches, nearby homes and evacuation routes, according to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker.

That's what he told elected officials from the county and its cities during a Council of Governments meeting on Tuesday, April 5, as he updated them on what's going on and what's in store.

Hunsicker said the project under way right now includes adding 169,000 cubic yards of sand to 5,075 feet of beachfront with sand that comes through a subaqueous pipeline. That pipeline extends almost seven miles and was placed in the water instead of along the beach where it would upset tourists and resort owners. He said this project adds much needed sand to a neglected area of the Island.

"When they are finished, not every groin will be covered," he said, referring to a number of small rock groins that now extend from the beach. He said some of the groins go out to hard bottom and they can't cover that with sand, according to the state. He said in other cases, they will place sand, but will have to perform a mitigation project that will add an offshore reef where the new sand will cover a hard rock bottom. They will also add a geo-tube at one of the jetties at the beach to help cut down on sand erosion along he shoreline.

The second portion of this year's project is in the city of Anna Maria, where they will add 25,000 cubic yards of sand along 3,000 feet of beach. That portion of the project is expected to take about a week.

Hunsicker said they are negotiating with the state to put sand on the north end of the Island from an area that will soon be off limits because of its proximity to the Port Dolphin offshore natural gas pipeline being built soon.

Hunsicker said when the county had its first renourishment in 1993, they placed 2.23 million cubic yards of sand along 4.6 miles of beach from north of Coquina Beach to just north of the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria. When they come back in 2015, they will place 1.9 million cubic yards of sand.

Sixty-four percent of the funding for that project will come from the federal government, with the county and state each adding 18 percent. He said that funding from the state has not been approved, although the state House and Senate have approved $50 million in bills that are still in committee. He said that Governor Rick Scott did not say he would approve that money, but while meeting with him recently, Scott told Hunsicker and others to keep an eye on the bills because things can move quickly during the budget process.

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