The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 24 - March 28, 2012


For the birds
Carol Whitmore

Visitor Sandy Krakowiak, of Asheville, N.C., takes a look
at three snowy plover eggs on the first nest of the
2012 season in Anna Maria.

Snowbirds of the tourist variety are excited about snowbirds of the feathery variety, and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring has paired them up in a new program.

Bird stewardship is more than birdwatching, with participants monitoring and protecting nesting areas, according to program creator Suzi Fox.

The program allows bird stewards to keep an eye on nesting birds on the beach in Anna Maria through a high-powered scope, sharing the scene with beachgoers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The educational program is designed to demonstrate how people and birds can share the beach, Fox said. It also fills a void for nature lovers who want to see wildlife outside the sea turtle nesting season, which is from May 1 to Oct. 31.

"Winter visitors are excited about bird stewarding," said Fox, adding that visiting children and grandchildren also can get involved.

A sign invites beachgoers to come and take a look as birds nest, fish and protect their young. Within a few minutes of planting the sign, volunteer Glenn Wiseman had a half dozen people asking to see three snowy plover eggs, the first nest of the 2012 season and expressing concern about how long the parents had been off the nest, probably feeding.

Snowy plovers are a threatened species in Florida.

It's exciting to see such a rare nest, said Sandy Krakowiak, of Asheville, N.C., as Wiseman handed out cards picturing a half dozen shorebirds that nest on Anna Maria Island.

A Bird 101 program, scheduled on Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, will include lessons on safety, using the scope and etiquette – both toward the birds and toward private property owners where the nests are sometimes located.

For more information, visit

Volunteer for Turtle Watch

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring will hold volunteer training classes on Thursday, April 5, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Turtle volunteer positions for the 2012 turtle nesting season are filled, but prospective future volunteers are encouraged to attend the training session from 6 to 8 p.m.

DEP probes huts, mangroves, tree house

HOLMES BEACH – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is investigating three potential violations of state environmental law in Holmes Beach, including mangrove trimming and the construction of chickee huts and a tree house on the Gulf beaches.


More than 125 feet of mangroves allegedly have been trimmed without a permit at the end of 28th Street in Holmes Beach.

Mangroves are protected in Florida, and violators can incur fines and be required to restore damaged areas.

DEP wrote a warning last month to property owners Cedar Hames, of Tierra Verde, Fla., and Roderick Parsons, of Ripley, W. Va., stating that field inspectors had determined that about 9,500 square feet of white, black and red mangroves had been trimmed from 16 to 20 feet tall down to 5 feet without a required DEP permit at 418 28th St. The street borders Grassy Point Bayou, a Class II Outstanding Florida Waterbody adjacent to Grassy Point Preserve.

"Based on the initial inspection, it appears the area affected is 126 linear feet of shoreline," DEP External Affairs Manager Ana Gibbs said. "We are still looking into this situation, and we will be gathering additional information to confirm the total area of impact."

DEP learned about the case from the Holmes Beach Police Department, which responded to an inquiry by Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who had heard the complaint from a resident.

Chickee huts

Three chickee huts and other structures built without permits at the Anna Maria Island Beach Resort, 105 39th St., also are under review by DEP.

The city of Holmes Beach red tagged the huts in January and June 2011 and issued a stop work order because the huts posed a fire hazard to nearby buildings, Holmes Beach building inspector Bob Shaffer said. The palm fronds have since been removed from the huts.

DEP issued a warning of unauthorized construction seaward of the coastal construction control line and is currently gathering additional information for the resort's application to have the huts approved after the fact, according to DEP Public Information Officer Nicole Garcia.

Beach tree house

Richard Hazen of Angelino's Sea Lodge, 103 29th St., has requested an after the fact permit exemption for his elaborate, three-story tall tree house, built on the beach in an Australian pine tree.

Late last year, DEP told Hazen to remove the tree house and restore the disturbed sand dunes.

DEP is evaluating the issues raised by Hazen's attorney, David Levin, in his response to a warning letter from DEP, according to Gibbs. The issues include whether the tree house would be considered an exempt "minor activity" under state law, which would exempt it from the permitting requirement.

Holmes Beach Building Inspector Bob Shaffer said he thinks Hazen has a good chance of keeping the tree house, which is supported by poles designed to look like tree trunks. If the tree house did not have the poles, it would be exempt, he added.

"In my opinion, he's far enough away from the Coastal Construction Control Line and Erosion Control Line," said Shaffer, who referred the case to DEP.

The city requested an engineering survey on the tree house and would require a professional engineer to sign off on the structure before issuing to DEP a letter stating the city has no objection to the structure, he said.

Concession stand rehab almost done
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
The $500,000 renovation of the Coquina concession stand
is nearing completion..

BRADENTON BEACH – Workers have finished the half-million-dollar refurbishment of the Coquina Beach Concession Stand and it's now down to final inspections and heading for a reopening about April 1, according to Mike Whelan, of the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department.

"The equipment is in and the wastewater system has been certified," Whelan said. "The health department is expected to make its inspection Wednesday (March 28)."

Whelan said they have a temporary certificate of occupancy, but the health department inspection is vital to the reopening.

The county shut down the concession stand earlier this year for a rehabilitation of the building, which is more than 50 year old, and the restrooms. The concessionaire, United Park Service (UPS), continued to sell snacks and refreshments from a portable concession stand, but the newly painted building and its large, concrete deck with tables and chairs awaits the order to reopen.

The price of the rehab totaled approximately a half million dollars with UPS picking up $50,000 of that for equipment and the county paying $450,000. The refurbishment includes a new roof, ADA accessible fully tiled new bathrooms, an ADA accessible deck, new wiring and plumbing, a new cooking hood, new restaurant equipment and new tables and chairs. They raised the floor 18 inches and there also is a new and expanded gift shop, according to Whelan.

Whalen said he knew they would have to train their staff before they reopen, but he said it should be in operation around the first of April.

Island Library to close for rehab
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Tom Vaught | Sun
The Island Branch Library will be closed for refurbishment
this summer, and the summer children's and
teen's program will not be held, although parents are invited
to use the South County or Central libraries.

HOLMES BEACH – The Island Branch Library will be closed May 1 for renovations, but the county still doesn't know where the contents are going.

According to Cheri Coryea, Director of Manatee County Neighborhood Services, officials are planning on shutting down and hoping to be able to have the contents safely stored while they make repairs and changes.

Librarian Inez Tamanaha said they looked for locations where the library's computers and other equipment might have been set up for customers to use, but without any success. For now, the county would love to store the library's books on its shelves some place where they might be used during the summer months.

The library's summer children's and teen's programs will not be held this summer. Parents are advised to use the South Manatee or Central libraries for the summer. The Sun will carry information on programs at those two libraries throughout the closure of the Island facility.

The rehabilitation is budgeted for $200,000.

"Plans call for new acoustical ceiling tiles, new lighting, carpeting, paint, drywall repair and a slight change in the configuration," Coryea said. "We also want to do something with the bathrooms to lighten them."

Coryea said they hope to start that work after June 1.

The Friends of the Island Branch Library have contributed to the library's upkeep in the past, including new carpeting at one time. Friends President Thea Kelley said they have been involved in talks with the county.

"If there is anything we could do that makes sense, we'll do it," she said. "In the past we helped with items that should have been paid for by the county."

The Friends is a non-profit group that supports the library with items such as books and videos and they even purchased the cases that hold the DVD movies a few years ago. Kelley said it's time for the county to step up.

"We're the last library in the system to be renovated," she said. "I don't have to point out how much money Island residents and businesses contribute to the county's tax base."

For more information, or if you have information on where the books and contents could be stored locally, call Inez at 778-6341.

District change progresses to second hearing
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The turquoise area along the coast is the conservation district.

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners last week discussed an ordinance changing the preservation district to conservation.

Planner Alan Garrett said the ordinance would bring the land development regulations in line with a comprehensive plan amendment that commissioners approved last year. The amendment fixed a glitch that would have prohibited development along the Gulf.

The glitch was discovered when owners wanted to develop property along Park Avenue and Beach Street. City officials learned that the land use category along the Gulf was changed from conservation to preservation in a 2007 revision of the 1989 comprehensive plan. No development is allowed in the preservation category.

'We no longer have a preservation district," Garrett said. "Any time we deal with a change from a permitted use or prohibited use, you are required to hold two public hearings."

Garrett said property owners in the dictrict must hire a person with a degree in coastal management or coastal zone management to determine the buildable area of the lot. An expert hired by the city, but paid for by the property owner must review that person's findings.

During the comp plan discussion last year, Garrett told commissioners that language in the amendment limited the amount of development allowed on the remaining vacant land. He said this would keep someone from combining two or three of the lots, tearing down the structures and replatting for six or seven lots.

Restricting building

"Can we restrict building to what's already been built?" Commissioner Sue Lynn asked.

"Many properties already have a house on them, so the train has already left the station" City Attorney Jim Dye replied. "The only was you could prohibit somebody from living on their property is buying it. So what has to be substituted is a process that limits the building footprint as much as possible."

Commissioner John Quam asked about swimming pools, and Garrett said they are allowed within the buildable area.

Quam and SueLynn said they should not be allowed.

"The minimum legal is reasonable use of the property," Dye responded. "Some of these properties already have swimming pools."

Building Official Bob Welch said the city has issued letters of no objection to the state for swimming pools not yet built in the area. He said anytime anyone wants to do something within the district, it has to be reviewed by the state.

Chair Chuck Webb said since the pool comes out of the buildable area, the owner could decide whether to use that space for a pool or a larger building.

During public comment, attorney Ricinda Perry, representing Stephen Walker and Whitehead Construction, said, "My office has reviewed this ordinance and we have no legal objections.

"We appreciated the hard work of Mr. Dye and Mr. Garrett. They have done a good job of addressing our legal issues. I also want to thank the mayor and city clerk's office for putting this before the commission."

Commissioners set the second public hearing for April 12.

Island Florist asks city for help

HOLMES BEACH – Business at the former Martini Bistro has affected Birgit Sesterhenn's ability to get in and out of her business, The Island Florist, she told the Holmes Beach Commission on Tuesday, March 13.

"I think we all need to work together," she told commissioners, describing several times when delivery trucks, customers and employees of the restaurant at 5337 Gulf Drive have blocked the door in back of her store, which she uses when delivering flowers.

"Something should be done," she said.

People attending art events have routinely disregarded the no parking signs in back of the Island Shopping Center where her business is located, but that short-term use has not been a dire issue, she said.

However, the longer-term use of restaurant customers, employees and delivery trucks is a problem, said Sesterhenn, who bought the shop in 1999.

On March 15, she was blocked in for more than a half hour by a truck making a delivery to the restaurant, she told The Sun.

The situation is becoming downright unfriendly, with people yelling at her after hours that her business is closed and they should be allowed to park behind her store, she said, adding that she sometimes makes deliveries after hours.

Last month, an employee of the former Martini Bistro came to Sesterhenn's shop with a police officer asking which company she had used to tow the employee's car away. Sesterhenn knew nothing about the car being towed, she said.

"From what I understand, restaurants have to provide parking in relation to the amount of seating they offer," she wrote the commission after her appearance last week. "So I am certainly wondering how the permit for the new restaurant was issued with no sufficient parking supplied to begin with."

The former Martini Bistro has reopened as LOBSTAHS, under new management; Jeff Levey said that overcrowding issues have been addressed and the fire department has inspected and approved the new business.

Easter events at Sandbar and on Pine Avenue

The 26th Annual Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Saturday, April 7, at the Sandbar restaurant, 100 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria, beginning at 9 a.m. Refreshments will be served starting at 8:30 am. All children must bring their own basket.

After the Easter Egg Hunt the Easter Bunny will lead a parade down Pine Avenue where the Sandbar and Pine Avenue Restoration will host the Third Annual Easter Egg Roll and the Second Annual Easter Bonnet Contest from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

There will be a bonnet contest for kids and one for adults at 11 a.m. at 315 Pine Avenue Whether you are an experienced bonnet maker or creating one for the first time, this is your chance to show off your skills and creativity.

The prize for the best adult bonnet is a two-night stay at one of the Anna Maria Guest Houses, and the winner of the children's bonnet contest will win lunch and ice cream sundaes for themselves and three of their friends, compliments of the Sandbar.

There will be activities set up along Pine Avenue with lots of surprises for the children. Chris Grumley will provide music, and the Sandbbar will provide snacks and refreshments.

The PAR shops also will be giving away prizes to parents holding a lucky number given to them when they come to the Easter Egg Roll. Each shop will have special treats set out for the parents and children.

The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper has been a sponsor of the Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt for the last 9 years and once again will sponsor this event along with the Sandbar, which has been hosting the event for 26 years. The Easter Egg Roll and Bonnet Contest are sponsored by Pine Avenue Restoration and the Sandbar.

For more information, call Tina Fusaro at 941-778-8710 or visit

Fight among 12 leads to arrests

Holmes Beach made three arrests on unrelated charges after they responded to a fight at the Citgo station, 3015 Gulf Drive on Saturday, March 24, that appeared to be between spring break students.

According to a police report, there were approximately 12 people fighting in two groups when the officer arrived. He told everyone to get on the ground and all but two males complied. Other officers arrived from Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach and they put everyone in handcuffs.

According to what the students said, one female wore a revealing bikini and some of the males were staring at her. Other males confronted the ones staring at her and a fight broke out. Nobody knew who threw the first punch, but all of the males were involved, the report said.

Nobody wanted to press charges and everyone signed waivers of prosecution. Police checked IDs and arrested three males for having outstanding warrants. Otherwise, the rest of the subjects were free to go.

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