The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 13 - January 9, 2013


Board makes dog park recommendations

HOLMES BEACH – The city’s beautification committee, which was asked to oversee the dog park by Mayor Carmel Monti in December, made several recommendations for the park last week.

Chair Melissa Snyder said she and Commissioner David Zaccagnino feel the park needs to be divided in order to provide a place for small dogs.

“Also there’s the issue of proper water for the dogs,” she continued. “A hose with two bowls is not good for people’s dogs. We need an actual dog drinking fountain. Right now, they have a fountain that belongs in front of a funeral home.”

“The third recommendation is to remove the benches that are there and replace them with the sturdy benches that are at the trolley stops. They are a liability. There is a 300-pound weight limit, and if two people sit on them they will break.”

Member Jim Dunne said they would need to install another gate and a shelter. He said the small dog portion should be in left field because there’s parking and access.

Snyder suggested a sunshade instead of building another shelter. She also suggested more extensive rules for the park.

“You need to know whether each dog has had its rabies inoculation and its license,” she said. “You need to have your leash in hand at all times, not sitting under the pavilion having a tea party while you dog is running loose. You are supposed to be in close proximity to your dog.”

She said there also are dog park etiquette rules such as never leaving your dog unattended.

“I would like to see four or five people who use the dog park all the time – very sensible, calm people on a dog park committee,” she continued. “I can liaison between you and this committee.”

Snyder recommended Robert Longworth to head the committee, and he accepted.

Monti said there are funds for the fence and that he would discuss the benches and dog watering system with Public Works Foreman Gary Blunden.

Barbara Parkman asked Snyder if the fountain would stay in the park, and she replied, “You made the decision to put that fountain there. You did no research on what dogs needed and now we have a fountain that is not serviceable.”

Zaccagnino said the mayor would make the decision. Two residents then read letters praising the park.

Dog walker in conflict with authorities

BRADENTON BEACH – A dog puppy walker, who took a walk with his wife and a guide dog in training on Sunday, Dec. 30, ran into a problem with a lifeguard supervisor who wanted him to remove the nine-month-old golden retriever from the beach.

Raymond and Joan Foren, of Ocala, came to Coquina Beach with Parker, who was wearing a cape to identify him as a service dog, after seeing no signs prohibiting dogs on the beach.

“When we saw there were no signs, we took the cape off him and shortly after that, a lifeguard approached and told us dogs were not allowed on the beach,” Foren said. “The lifeguard said his supervisor in the tower sent him down to talk with us and so we held up the collar so the supervisor could see.”

Soon, Bradenton Beach Police officer Tom Ferraro arrived after the supervisor radioed for an officer. He talked with the couple, who said he told them he thought the service dog should be allowed on the beach, but he said he would let the supervisor decide. The supervisor said no, and when Foren protested, Ferraro said the county owns the beach and pays for the police to patrol it. According to one of Foren’s e-mails, he feels both the supervisor and Ferraro should be terminated.

Under state statute, service dogs are allowed wherever people are allowed when they are on duty serving their owner or while they are in training. Dog walkers take service dog candidates and socialize them so they can mingle with people and ignore other animals while on duty. If the dogs pass that stage, they are sent to trainers who get them ready for a lifetime of service.

Police Lt. John Cosby said after investigating, the department determined the problem was between Foren and the supervisor and the officer got in the middle.

Although Foren’s e-mail said he was told to get off the beach, after Ferraro left the scene, he saw them again 10 minutes later at the outdoor market.

Meanwhile, the county is investigating and is not talking about the incident at this time.

Foren e-mailed the city that he is talking with an attorney and wants to file complaints against the supervisor and Ferraro.

“We have taken dogs to 12 states and three (Canadian) provinces and we have never been told we cannot go on the beach,” he said. “This is the only place I ever had a problem.”

Holmes Beach to eliminate duplex connection

HOLMES BEACH – Underground footers to connect duplexes in Holmes Beach will be a thing of the past after the moratorium in the R-2 district is lifted.

Commissioners agreed to eliminate the portion of the code that allows duplexes to be connected by an underground foundation and that in order to have a two-family unit on one duplex lot, there must be a party wall.

Commissioner Pat Morton kicked off the discussion declaring, “This footer is an atrocity. They found a loophole and climbed through it. We have a lot of places destroyed because of it.”

“It needs to go away,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth agreed.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman asked how much separation should be between two units on one lot. Interim Building Inspector Tom O’Brien said the land development code requires a separation of 20 feet.

However, City Attorney Patricia Petruff pointed out, “Our land development code has for many years indicated that if you have more than one structure on a lot, it has a very specific requirement about spacing buildings.

“For the purposes of defining duplexes, we got away from what most of us think traditionally as a duplex – one building with a common party wall, allowing them to be connected by a roof or underground, which makes it look like two buildings. In terms of our land development code the spacing requirement wasn’t required because it was considered one building.”

Building separation

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the separation for the first level is 20 feet, but it is 30 feet for the second level and noted, “If you do away with the footer, you go to a 30-foot separation. I don’t want to space them out 30 feet.”

However, Planner Bill Brisson corrected him and said, “If a building is one-story the separation is 20 feet, but if it’s two or three stories, the whole building is set back 30 feet.”

Chair Jean Peelen suggested they do away with the footer connection and change the 30-foot separation to 20 feet.

“If you remove the footer and change the 30 feet to 20 feet, by default you are saying that all duplexes have to have a party wall,” Petruff said.

“The party wall doesn’t concern me because we have the LAR (living area ratio), and these are not going to be two monster houses together,” Peelen said.

Zaccagnino said someone with a duplex lot of 8,712 square feet could tear down a duplex and build two dwelling units. But Petruff said they could not because the lot is not big enough for two single-family homes, only one two-family home.

Commissioners agreed to Peelen’s suggestions and Petruff asked Brisson to draft an ordinance change.


“I have a client that bought a duplex with a footer. He’s a full-time resident. If he wanted to put another unit on the lot and use it as rental income, are you taking that right away from him?” Realtor Don Schroder asked.

He said properties such as that should be grandfathered.

Titsworth said she asked former Mayor Rich Bohnenberger about lots where only one half of the duplex is built. She said Bohnenberger’s reply was, “There are no half duplexes. They are single-family homes.” She said they could add on a party wall.

Frank Leggio asked if a person bought a duplex with a footer and the code is changed so that footers are not allowed, does it become non-conforming, and Petruff said yes.

Leggio then asked if one half of a duplex burned down, could it be replaced, if a different person owns each half.

Petruff cited Section 4.15 of the code regarding non conformities, which states, “If a non conforming building or structure is destroyed or damaged by a fire, flood, windstorm or other similar abnormal and identifiable event, the building or structure may be restored to its original non-conforming condition, provided that a building permit is secured, reconstruction is started within 180 days from the date of the damage and such reconstruction is diligently prosecuted to completion.”

She said the owner would have to bring it into conformity as much as possible.

Shore resigns from FISH board

CORTEZ – Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court Chips Shore has resigned from the board of directors of FISH, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage.

In a letter dated Jan. 3 to FISH president Kim McVey, Shore said he would remain a member of FISH, but no longer serve on the board, citing in part “offensive and inflammatory language and rhetoric” by some board members about the relationship between FISH and the clerk’s office, which administers the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.

As an example, Shore wrote, the clerk’s office had offered FISH the museum grounds as a Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival site for free as long as no activities took place on the site that earned vendor fees for FISH.

According to the letter, FISH declined the proposal, and the clerk’s office was obliged to charge a fee under the conditions of an agreement with the Florida Communities Trust that requires that fundraising activities on the site must benefit the site, in this case, the museum, not FISH.

FISH produces the festival each February, set this year for Feb. 16-17.

Festival committee meeting minutes unfairly cast blame on Shore for imposing the $1,500 fee, FISH board member Karen Bell said.

“To lose him is not good,” she said. “He thinks before he speaks.”

The board, which has had several resignations, two un-resignations and several new appointments in the past two years, is down two members, said Bell, who works on the FISH Preserve for the organization.

Over the past three decades, proceeds from the festival have paid to enlarge and improve the FISH Preserve, bordering Sarasota Bay on the eastern edge of the historic Cortez fishing village.

Explore nature in the county preserves

Kids and adults check for wildlife in a saltwater marsh at
Robinson Preserve in northwest Bradenton near the Island.

The month of January will be a busy one full of activities at the various Manatee County preserves. Everything from star-gazing and nature walks to kayaking and old-fashioned wagon rides will be offered. The following is a list of those activities, brought to you by The Manatee County Natural Resources Department.

• Friday, Jan. 11, 6 to 8 p.m., Starry Night Walk through Robinson Preserve. Search the heavens above for constellations, stars and planets during this special evening walk. Robinson Preserve is a great place to get away from the bright city lights and to turn your gaze skyward, marveling at the beauty of the fall night sky. The gates of the preserve are closed, but we’re giving you a special opportunity to enter with a naturalist and observe the starry night sky. Program suitable for all ages.

Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 8.

• Saturday, Jan. 12, 9 to 11 a.m., Winter Wonders Master Gardener Tour. Join Master Gardener Mike for a leisurely nature walk through DeSoto National Memorial and Riverview Pointe Preserve. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how Florida’s native plants survive in the cooler winter weather. Program suitable for all ages. Call the Master Gardener Office for reservations at 941-722-4524.

• Saturday, Jan. 12, 3 to 5 p.m., Families Flock Together: Holidays Under the Sea. It is winter in the ocean; the marine snow is falling and the candy cane shrimp are hung in the grassbeds with care. Come see how the snowflake morays and the humbug damselfish are spending their holiday season, and then join us as we dip net to explore the creatures living beneath the waters of Emerson Point. Program suitable for all ages. Participants should come prepared to get wet, including shoes that can be worn in the water. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 4.

• Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1 to 2 p.m., Exploring Emerson Point: Oyster Eaters and Mound Builders. Join master naturalist Jane for the first in the series of classes on Emerson Point’s wonderful oysters. What was Florida like thousands of years ago? Who were the mound builders of Emerson Point and what was the importance of the oyster to their existence? Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501, ext. 4616.

• Thursday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Gorgeous Gamble Creek Kayaking/Work Day. Launching from the Ft. Hamer boat ramp on the Manatee River, we will paddle upriver to explore meandering Gamble Creek. We will collect trash and remove exotic invasive species. While not for first time paddlers, beginners who can paddle 3 miles are welcome to attend. Participants must have their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. Children age 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 7.

• Saturday, Jan. 19, 8:30 to 11 a.m., Rye Volunteer Workday: NewVolunteer Group Rye Preservers. Everyone interested in giving one day a month to beautiful Rye Preserve is welcome!.As a group, with the ranger’s guidance, you decide what you would like to work on this month. Come join them and be part of the planning of projects to complete! Program suitable for all ages. Call 941-748-4501, ext. 4613, to RSVP.

• Saturday, Jan. 19, 9 to 10 a.m., Naturalist-Led Wagon Tour: Roll through Robinson Preserve in a covered wagon. Your naturalist tour guide will explain the preserve’s history, resident wildlife, fabulous flowers and describe preserve highlights. One 60-minute trip will be taken during the day. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations will not be taken for this tour. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 941-742-5757, ext. 1, for more information.

• Saturday, Jan 19, 9 to 11a.m., Master Gardener Tour. Which plants bloom in the cool winter weather at Emerson Point Preserve? Join the Master Gardeners for a relaxing stroll through Emerson Point to view first hand the answer to this question. Program suitable for all ages. For reservations call 941-722-4524.

Stolen car ends up in shooting

BRADENTON BEACH – Police retrieved Michael Pedone, Jr.’s stolen car last Thursday morning, but it has some bullet holes in it.

According to a Bradenton Beach Police report, Pedone, of Bradenton Beach, gave Stephanie Ann Hicks, 34, and another female a ride to Bradenton Beach from a Sarasota Wal Mart shortly before midnight on Thursday, Jan. 3. When he pulled into a residence in the 100 block of Third Street South to visit another female, the two women stayed in the car. Hicks asked him to leave the keys to the car so they could listen to the radio. He did, and that was the last he saw of them, according to the report. When he returned from visiting the woman, the car and the two women were gone.

About 1:57 a.m., a Sarasota police officer identified a Nissan Sentra as the one that had been stolen from Pedone and tried to stop it, according to a Sarasota Police report. But the driver, later identified as Hicks, allegedly refused to stop and drove off. Officers boxed her in when she got to the end of a dead-end street and instead of stopping she turned around, striking a fence.

Several officers were outside their patrol cars, and they again ordered her to stop, but she drove toward them, hitting three police cars, the report said. The police then opened fire. Hicks was hit twice and went to the hospital where she was treated and released to officers who took her to jail. She was charged with six counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer.

Hicks’ passenger was identified as Floyd David Lee Laycock, 22, and not the other female that was with her in Bradenton Beach. Laycock refused to leave the car after Hicks got out and police had to use a K-9 dog to force him. He was treated for dog bites. The report said Laycock was charged with obstructing an officer, and he might face further charges if he knew the car was stolen.

There were no injuries to the police officers.

Police said Hicks had been arrested more than 30 times in Florida and Tennessee. Laycock has 17 previous arrests.

Fernandez leaves building department

HOLMES BEACH – John Fernandez, who was providing services to the city’s building department, ended his agreement with the city on Dec. 26.

Fernandez, who once was the city’s building official and also served as building official for the town of Longboat Key, has been providing building department services to the city under a special agreement since July 2012.

The department has been in flux since Joe Duennes, the city’s building official and superintendent of public works, retired on Nov. 16. Building Inspector Bob Shaffer, was terminated in September.

“I retired from Longboat Key and went to the city and offered my help,” Fernandez explained. “The work load picked up and people left.

“I was putting in way too many hours. It was not what I signed up for. If wanted to work full time, I would have stayed where I was.”

In November, former mayor Rich Bohnenberger hired David Greene as building inspector, and in December, Mayor Carmel Monti hired Tom O’Brien as interim building inspector.

Other options

Monti said Fernandez’s departure does not create any problems because “Joe is on staff until the end of February. He will sign permits after we’ve done our due diligence.”

He said other options include receiving help from Manatee County or the other Island cities. Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said she already has offered her city’s help.

“Tom O’Brien is going through the process of renewing his certification,” Monti continued. “He can sign permits for a year under a provisional certification.”

Building Department Clerk Susan Lonzo said between Dec.1 and 31, 90 permits came into the city. She said they are “mostly swimming pools and remodels in the R-2 district,” which is now the subject of a six-month moratorium on building.

In addition, the position of police chief is open following the retirement of Police Chief Jay Romine on Dec. 20. Lieutenant Dale Stephenson was named interim police chief.

Monti said he has decided “not to throw a net out nationwide” but is relying on word of mouth locally for applications. He said the city has received five applications, and he plans to advertise the position locally at some point.

Pier projects delayed by red tape

BRADENTON BEACH – The city’s floating day dock at the Bridge Street Pier continues to float alongside the pier, waiting for what the city hopes is a permanent fix for it continually tearing apart due to high waves.

High winds during Hurricane Sandy made the waves that forced the city to shut down the dock for safety reasons.

At the Bradenton Beach Pier Team meeting on Thursday, Jan. 3, Public Works Director Tom Woodard said they still have to tell people not to dock there and walk on it. Building Official Stephen Gilbert said the Army Corps of Engineers was still reviewing the permit request.

Police Chief Sam Speciale said the Corps had become bogged down with damage from Sandy, which is partially responsible for the delay.

The city also is set to ask for bids from contractors to replace pilings under the pier from the restaurant east to the end. Gilbert said City Attorney Ricinda Perry was looking at the request for bids and it would be available for the city commission to vote on it soon.

Speciale asked the team members if they wanted to reduce the number of meetings they hold from twice a month to once a month until they get a contractor and start working on the project. The group agreed. Speciale wants the team to meet on a regular basis like it did a few years ago when the city rebuilt the western end of the pier, replacing the restaurant and public restrooms with new structures and adding a bait shop and harbormaster office for a future city-operated mooring field. Those meetings were a good exchange of information where elected officials and city department heads were informed about what was happening.

On a lighter note, Woodard said they removed brochures about the area from the harbormaster’s office.

“We were going to take them to the (Anna Maria Island) Chamber of Commerce, but when the people at the (Bradenton Beach) Marina saw them, they asked of they could have them,” Woodard said. “They make up packets for boaters who stay there, and these brochures are what they needed.”

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