The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 28 - April 25, 2012


Renovation 1, demolition 0

HOLMES BEACH – In Ybor City or St. Augustine, where an old building means one that's between 100 and 400 years old, preservationists would laugh at the idea that a 1970s building is historic.

But in Holmes Beach, saving seven duplexes from the 1970s is almost an historic act in itself. Ben and Keren ten Haaf have purchased Sunset Beach apartments on Gulf Drive between 75th and 77th streets and plan to renovate them with Greg Ross, of Ross Built Construction, and architect Emily Ann Smith, Ben ten Haaf said.

"We're definitely not going to tear them down," said ten Haaf, an Ohio resident whose parents live in Holmes Beach. "We really like the feel of the Island."

The complex will be renamed Lizzie Lu's Island Retreat, named for the couple's daughter, he said. The Island has another, unrelated Sunset Beach, a Gulffront condominium.

"I think there's a lot of value in the concrete block ground floor units," ten Haaf said, especially for seniors who are unable to climb stairs.

The one-story duplexes are similar to many that have been demolished in recent years and replaced with three-story, multiple bedroom vacation rentals, most with pools, that have created noise, parking and trash problems for neighbors. Residents have been pouring in to city commission meetings for months asking for help. Commissioners gave reports last week on potential solutions proposed by their ad hoc committees.

"How wonderful," said Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who has been bringing residents' concerns to the commission from her weekly coffee talks. "I am so excited and so happy."

The sale closed a week before the commission is scheduled to hear a report on the tax advantages of preserving ground floor homes from Cathy Slusser, deputy director of Historical Resources for the Manatee County Clerk of Court, and Sissy Quinn, of Anna Maria Island Preservation Trust. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

One of the reasons the couple purchased the property was to keep the look of old Florida, said Brenda Boyd May, of Boyd Realty, who closed the sale.

"They will fix them up, but keep them the same," she said. "They will preserve what little is left of this Island."

"He does not want to see the high-rise motels," said Mike Norman, whose firm, Mike Norman Realty, has managed the 14-apartment complex for more than 20 years, and is assisting tenants with finding new homes before the end of the year.

The couple has not decided yet whether to continue with long term rentals, ten Haaf said.

Center director steps down

ANNA MARIA – Island Community Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly stunned her board members Monday morning by resigning effective at the end of the fiscal year in July.

"As we enter the last quarter of this year, I wanted to let you know that I am planning the next chapter of my life," she read from a letter to board members. "After 22 years as executive director, working with the board of directors and an amazing staff and groups of wonderful volunteers, we have accomplished all the goals that led me through the doors of the old Community Center in 1989 and so much more. It is my intention to leave my position in 12 weeks, at the end of the fiscal year, July 2012."

She cited the Center's growth over the past few years with a new building, a new mortgage, updated policies, a dedicated board of directors and a dedicated professional staff.

"I really can't change my mind; it's really time," she said through tears. "I really loved it; it's really hard. It's been amazing, but everybody has a time to do something."

Chair Greg Ross said he tried to talk Kelly into staying until the end of the calendar year to no avail and added, "She's given 22 years but it's time for her to move on, and she knows it. We appreciate everything she's done for us. It's 100 percent her decision, and we must support her.

"It came as a surprise and a shock, but we need to figure out how to move forward. We should put together a subcommittee to interview Scott (Assistant Executive Director Scott Dell) and other applicants. We need to do that soon, so they can work with Pierrette."

Property managers work on rental issues

ANNA MARIA – Questions from attorneys and a planner prompted city commissioners to continue to April 26 an ordinance to bring the land development regulations in line with a comprehensive plan amendment.

The comprehensive plan 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 had been changed from conservation to preservation, where no development is allowed. The ordinance changes the preservation district to conservation.

Planner Jim Farr was representing Richard and Pat Friday, who are in litigation with the city over Stephen Walker's plans to build a home in front of Friday's property at 104 Park Avenue and develop the Banyan Tree Estates subdivision.

Farr objected to language that was deleted or changed regarding owners who also own adjacent lots.

"We were controlled by the state when we did our comprehensive plan amendment. We agreed to a maximum number of homes that could be built in the conservation area," City Planner Alan Garrett replied.

"We had a situation where someone came in with three lots and wanted to reconfigure them to two. We added language that would allow the number of lots to be reduced but not increased."

Protecting the environment

City Attorney Jim Dye added that the deleted language is not required by the comprehensive plan and pointed out, "The policy behind these changes is protection of these properties that are environmentally sensitive and at the same time recognizing private property rights."

Attorney Harry Haskins, also representing the Fridays, also questioned the deleted language and maintained, "There's no reason for that deletion except for the fact that the city is trying to help Walker develop these waterfront lots."

Attorney Ricinda Perry, representing the Walkers, said she supports staff's changes to the ordinance and noted that Friday "has lost all of his complaints." She asked why the ordinance states that the report on the buildable area of a lot is only valid for 12 months and if that time frame could be extended.

Dye said it could, Chair Chuck Webb said if construction hasn't started after 12 months, the city needs a process to determine if the site has changed.

"We put that language in there because things may change over year," explained Building Official Bob Welch.

Webb told Garrett and Welch to work on suggested language for an extension and bring it back to the April 26 meeting.

Library prepares for shutdown
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Mary Ellen Sabo and Librarian Eva Tamanaha
will be busy dealing with the refurbishment of the
library during the summer.

HOLMES BEACH – The staff of the Island Branch Library will be having a most unusual summer. They'll still be at work, but the library will not be open.

The Island Branch Library's last day before a $200,000 refurbishment is Saturday, April 28. After that, the books, tapes and other material will be stored in air conditioned facilities while workers rehab the electrical system, repair walls, make some layout changes and bring the facility into shape.

For readers and users of the library, there are some instructions. If you have a book or other items on reserve, contact the person at the desk to make arrangements to have it delivered to either the Central library downtown at 1301 Barcarrota Blvd W. or South Manatee Library at 6081 26th St. W.).

In addition, the book and media drop-off box will be available in front of the Island library until May 11 for those who checked out the same during this week.

Several of the regular meetings at the Island library will be changing their venues. Judy Pruett's origami classes will be moved to Tingley Library, behind city hall in Bradenton Beach. The Gulf Coast Writers will meet on the first Wednesday of each month at the Central Library and the Alzheimer's Support Group will meet the second Friday of each month at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The exact date of the library's re-opening has not yet been set, due to the scale of work to be done. Until then, the children's summer programs have been canceled, but The Sun will publicize events at the Central and South Manatee libraries.

Until then, we have Tingley Library in Bradenton Beach and the two nearest county libraries or find some good beach reading at the many yard and garage sales on the Island during weekends.

Alternate Libraries

Tingley Memorial Library,
111 Second St. N.,
Bradenton Beach, 779-1208

Central Library,
1301 Barcarotta Blvd. W.
Bradenton, 748-5555

South Manatee Library,
6081 26th St. W., Bradenton,

Mangrove trimmers fined
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Submitted | Sun
Mangroves that border Grassy Point Bayou were trimmed
without a permit, leading to $3,500 in fines.

HOLMES BEACH – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has penalized a property owner and his tree service for trimming mangroves without a permit at the end of 28th Street.

DEP made a settlement offer to Roderick Parsons, of Ripley, W. Va., for trimming 6,600 square feet of mangroves across the street from his house at 417 28th St. without a permit, charging $2,000 for the violation plus $250 in costs. Parsons accepted the offer on April 18 and agreed to pay the penalty.

DEP also offered to settle with Sunset Tree Service, of Bradenton, for $1,000 for the violation plus $250 for costs for the same violation. At press time, Sunset had not responded to DEP.

DEP did not charge the property owner of 418 28th St., Cedar Hames, of Tierra Verde, Fla., as he appeared to be unaware of the trimming, DEP External Affairs Manager Ana Gibbs said.

Field inspectors originally estimated that 9,500 square feet of white, black and red mangroves had been trimmed from 16 to 20 feet down to five feet, but later recalculated the violation to be 6,600 square feet using a GPS, she said.

The mangroves border Grassy Point Bayou, a Class II Outstanding Florida Waterbody next to Grassy Point Preserve.

Mangroves are protected in Florida, and violators can incur fines and be required to restore damaged areas. No restoration was required in the case.

The Holmes Beach Police Department referred the case to DEP after receiving an inquiry from Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who heard the complaint from a resident.

Earth Day celebrated Sunday
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


The first Earth Day celebration at Dogs For the Earth on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria was a success despite intermittent rainfall. Tables were set up in the parking lot offering a recycling game for children, collage making with recycled materials and coloring, as well as green items from Waste Management and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. As visitors walked inside, they were asked to add their thumbprints to an interactive painting of the ocean, so "together we can make an ocean of difference." Inside, children's entries for the art contest were set up around the room and hung from the walls and ceiling. Kids and adults played with wooden puzzles, and adults learned about organic wines.

Above, Brooke Cosentino, 5, with her sister, Nikole,
8, and Nikole's winning Plant a Seed project.
At right, children's Earth Day posters are displayed in
Dogs For The Earth.



City finds contractor in violation

HOLMES BEACH – The city's code enforcement board found Frank Agnelli, of Agnelli Pools and Construction, in violation of city code last week for beginning work on a pool before a permit was issued.

The board did not accept his defense that contractors have been able to apply for permits and begin work on a project with verbal approval from the city's building official before a permit is issued.

Agnelli's attorney, Scott Rudacille, said the practice is common, with the condition that the contractor stays within the scope of the work listed in the application and taking the risk that he might have to tear out work that would not be approved in the forthcoming permit.

If the practice has been changed, the city should notify contractors, he said.

Several years ago, the city's previous building official allowed pre-permit construction to begin a "handful" of times, but discontinued the practice because it was abused, said Joe Duennes, the city's public works superintendent, who did not attend the hearing.

"It's in the state building code, but we don't do it," he said, adding that he has never given such approval, but would consider it in an emergency, such as an air conditioning contractor fixing a broken unit on a weekend.

In its decision, the board noted a previous violation at 307 A and B 66th St. for which Agnelli had paid a triple fee penalty. The current violation at 205 77th St. also incurred a triple fee penalty, and necessitated a code board hearing because there had been a previous violation of the same type, City Attorney James Dye said.

The first violation was "clearly an honest mistake," Rudacille said, explaining that Agnelli had a silt fence permit for the site and thought he had a construction permit. The second citation subjects Agnelli to doubled fines of $500 a day for any future violations, he said.

"They're making an example and I drew the short straw," Agnelli said.

In other business:

• The board postponed hearing a case against Barefoot Bungalow LLC of Holmes Beach for work done at 5608 Holmes Blvd. after a stop work order was issued. The city is in the process of verifying that the proper parties were served notice of the hearing, according to Dye. The city notified Shawn Kaleta and Scott Eason, of Holmes Beach-based Beach to Bay Construction, and Dean Hoshizaki, of Seattle, Wash.

• The board also announced that the city has closed its case against William Sorg, 3707 Gulf Drive, with payment of triple fees and $88 in costs assessed last month, when he was found to be in violation of city and state codes for replacing a roof without a permit and continuing work after being ordered to stop. The property is now in compliance with the codes, according to Code Enforcement Officer Dave Forbes.

• The board re-elected Don Schroder as chairman and Michael Faarup as vice chairman.


Dispute arises over procedure

BRADENTON BEACH – A member of the Scenic WAVES Committee and Mayor John Shaughnessy had words recently about procedures.

The Scenic WAVES Committee has lost some of its luster since the economy went downhill. Once a busy clearing house for new ideas and grants to improve public locations and a group that did a lot of the legwork needed to get a project before the city commission for its approval, its budget has been cut and its agenda is small.

Scenic WAVES member Carl Parks expressed dismay recently that the city did not run the proposed joint project past the committee that would build protective sand dunes on the property just west of city hall and a parking lot for the BeachHouse restaurant and the city to. Members felt they should have a say in the decision since it would modify the way Gulf Drive and the beach look, two areas of concern for the hybrid committee formed from the Scenic Highway Corridor Improvement Group and WAVES, which was formed when the city earned membership in the Waterfronts Florida Program.

However, Scenic WAVES came under fire when it made plans to have plantings in front of the post office on Bridge Street. The group asked Public Works Director Tom Woodard for help in clearing the area before the planting, storing and getting rid of the material cleared from the site and storing the plants until the spot is ready. Shaughnessy was upset about the group telling the public works department to wait and spoke about it at the city's Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.

"You guys take orders from us," he said, referring to the city commission.

The mayor said the director of Keep Manatee Beautiful, Ingrid McClelland, who serves as a liaison to the Scenic WAVES Committee, needed to get permission from the city commission for the Arbor Day planting.

"They assumed I could take that stuff and store it in my yard, but I don't have a yard," Woodard said.

Later in the day, during the city commission meeting, the subject of the committee, feeling that it had been bypassed in the system, came up again.

"I hear public works is being asked to plant these things and clean up the sites," Shaughnessy said. "That order never came from the city. There are questions on watering and upkeep and Scenic WAVES did not go through the city."

Shaughnessy said city commission would have to approve the planting before the Arbor Day ceremony on Friday, April 27, and the Scenic WAVES committee would have to produce plans for the city commission and Woodard to consider. Parks agreed and said he would get everything together, and the city commission approved it on the condition that the mayor and city staff approve the plans before Arbor Day.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper