The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 27 - May 4, 2016


City hit with 25 Bert Harris claims

Carol Whitmore

joe hendricks | sun

Joern and Kathrin Stock are seeking $305,000 in
compensation or an occupancy limit of 14 persons for
their property at 205 Palm Ave.

ANNA MARIA – Last week, the city of Anna Maria was presented with 25 Bert Harris claims seeking more than $7.5 million in compensation to account for lost revenues created by vacation rental occupancy limits.

Florida Statutes allow Bert Harris claims to be filed by property owners who feel a government action has placed inordinate burdens on the use and value of a property. The Bert Harris Act entitles property owners to relief that may include compensation for the actual loss to a property's fair market value.

On Wednesday, April 27, attorney Scott Rudacille presented the city with eight Bert Harris claims alleging $2.95 million in lost future rental revenues or property value.

On Thursday, April 28, attorney Kevin Hennessey presented the city with 11 Bert Harris claims alleging $2.87 million in lost future revenues or value.

On Friday, April 29, Hennessey presented the city with six additional Bert Harris claims, seeking $1.74 million in alleged lost revenues or value.

As an alternative to monetary compensation, those who filed claims have indicated they are amenable to relief from the eight-person occupancy limits established in the vacation rental ordinance that took effect April 1.

A grandfathering provision grants five years of additional occupancy, in the form of two guests per bedroom, for existing vacation rental properties whose owners requested the provision when registering their property.

The smallest claim received last week, $140,000, was filed by Michelle and Jeffery Laade for a duplex at 93 North Shore Drive that lists a pre-ordinance maximum occupancy of 11.

The largest claim, $893,000, was filed by Green Sea Turtle Real Estate LLLP for a vacation rental located at 807 North Shore Drive that lists a maximum occupancy of 12.

The largest occupancy modification requested is for the 306 Poinsettia Road property owned by Joern and Kathrin Stock, who are seeking an occupancy allowance of 16 persons or $305,000 in compensation.

Many other property owners requested maximum occupancy allowances for 12 to 15 people.

Claim filers included Seven Emeralds LLC, Salouh Florida LLC and Rysal Enterprises LLC, all of whom were joined by the Anna Maria Island Vacation Property Association (AMIVPA) as plaintiffs in the first legal challenge to the vacation rental ordinance. The AMIVPA is not named in any of the Bert Harris claims, nor is developer Shawn Kaleta.

The process

When contacted, City Attorney Becky Vose explained the Bert Harris claim process.

She said claims presented to the city were accompanied by professional appraisals that estimated the potential loss of property value due to diminished vacation rental revenues allegedly created by the occupancy limits.

The city and the claimants attorneys have 150 days to negotiate before any lawsuits can be filed.

Vose said the city would begin by having its own appraisals conducted as a point of comparison for use during the negotiations.

She said occupancy restrictions could also be negotiated, which would require final approval from the City Commission.

"It could be a dollar figure or we give them X number of years at X amount of occupancy or a combination of the two," Vose said of the potential outcomes.

Occupancy increases given to specific claim filers would not be extended across the board to all vacation rental property owners.

Vose said the city could also determine that no action is warranted by the city. If, after 150 days, the negotiations have not produced suitable resolutions, claimants can file individual lawsuits. Because each property and each claim is unique, each would require a separate hearing before the 12th Circuit Court in Bradenton.

When asked about previous Bert Harris negotiations she participated in before taking the Anna Maria job, Vose said she's always managed to resolve the claims through negotiation.

The city holds an insurance policy through the Florida League of Cities that would help offset compensation paid to property owners.

City Pier Park refinancing proposed
Carol Whitmore


City Pier Park has continued to evolve since the city
purchased the property in 2011


ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy and volunteer financial consultant John Chambers have suggested refinancing the City Pier Park property as a cost-saving measure for the city.

The 20-year, $2.84 million loan taken out in 2011 to purchase the six lots property was secured at an interest rate of 3.94 percent. Now known as City Pier Park, the property is located at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

Chambers and Murphy recently met with a representative from Hancock Bank who indicated a better interest rate was available. These findings were presented to the City Commission on Thursday, April 28.

He said Hancock Bank offered the city an interest rate of 2.07 percent, which could fluctuate if the refinancing efforts drag on too long. Chambers also said Hancock Bank has no objections to future loan prepayments that further reduce the city's debt.

Chambers said the monthly loan payments of $18,438 would remain the same, but the reduced interest rate would produce a significant reduction in interest paid, which, in turn, would result in increasingly higher principal payments and the debt being paid off sooner.

"We'd knock off another two years of debt payments," Chambers said.

He said at 2.07 percent, the interest payments would be reduced by an additional $430,000. When combined with the $80,000 saved by the recent prepayment, the city would save $511,000 on interest payments.

Chambers pointed out that the city incurred about $50,000 in expenses when the original loan was taken out, but he expects those costs to be lower this time around.

Chambers told the commission these interest savings would not be reflected in the city's monthly or periodic financial statements until 2028, and additional pre-payments made at a lower interest rate would produce lower savings than the recent prepayment made against a loan with a higher interest rate.

"It's not a free lunch, but it's a no-brainer because that's a lot of money," he said of the potential savings.

Chambers said he hopes the city can get this done in the next two to three months.

After expressing support for continued future pre-payments, Commissioner Dale Woodland suggested the city budget $100,000 in 2016-2017 fiscal year for this purpose.

Murphy agreed.

"I think it has to be a way of life while we're in the shape we're in. If you took this out to the maturity date, these savings would probably amount to funding the city's expenses for a year. Our grandchildren are going to thank us for this," the mayor said.

"Your grandkids may not thank you, but the people that are going to be sitting in these chairs 10 or 12 years from now will thank you; that's a fact," Chambers added.

Commission Chair Doug Copeland thanked Chambers for the "great work" he did on the city's behalf and asked him and Murphy to get this wrapped up as soon as possible.

Center board critiques Affaire

ANNA MARIA – Center board members learned that this year's Grand Affaire fell short of its goal, but are using lessons learned to improve the fund-raiser in the future.

"The fund-raising goals we set were not achieved," Executive Director Kristen Lessig reported. "There's two main causes for that. We walked into the event with $20,000 less in sponsorships, and we had a few big-ticket items during the live auction that brought in a lot more in prior years. Those two things alone were $50,000."

The event's net was $61,896, the lowest since 1995. Last year's net was $128,456. The highest was $776,368 in 2005.

She said the silent auction did better than previous years, and one factor was the online bidding before and during the event. However, mobile bidding on the live auction was not as successful because people like the excitement and competitive engagement of using the paddles. There also was an issue with cell phone reception.

"In my opinion the auctioneer in the live auction lost us money that night because he was not educated about the items," she said. "We need someone who knows the audience and can be more engaged with the crowd."

"We need a serious post mortem on this," board member Ed Chiles added. "Sixty thousand dollars for the effort you put into it? We need a date (for next year) now.

"The reason it worked so well for so long was it had somebody driving it, and that person was Trudy Moon. You need someone who lives and breathes it and cares about it and is invested in the community."

Board members agreed that planning should begin next month for next year's event.

Financial report

Treasurer Jim Froeschle reported that there was a positive net income of $73,000 in March, and said, "That brings our net loss for the year to date down to $37,000 and greatly improves our outlook for the year."

He said that was due to three factors – paying off the mortgage with a monthly interest savings of $5,000, strong donations from Rex Hagen's $50,000 matching challenge and special event revenue. He said he estimates the budget will be near or break even by the end of the fiscal year.

He said there are five financial strategies to diversify revenue and develop a sustainable financial model:

• Payoff debt to reduce annual overhead costs;

• Expand community engagement, sponsor base, and donor base to new Island residents and more businesses;

• Develop ongoing revenue source from tourism segment;

• Expand long-term financial support from Island cities and county;

• Explore and secure public/private partnerships.

Director's report Lessig told the board:

• L. Gifford Kessler and Mary Martha Kessler have bequeathed $266,000 from their estate to The Center. The money will be placed in the endowment fund. She said a lawyer would offer a presentation on planned giving to the public in the future.

• The Center received a $2,500 grant for the after school program from the Manatee Community Foundation.

• Badcock Furniture plans to renovate the teen and soiree rooms.

• The new rack cards are color coded under the following categories – sports, culture and arts, fitness, family, kids and seniors. They are displayed on a rack by the elevator in the lobby.

• There will be a "honey do" list at the front desk for handymen/handywomen volunteers to learn about projects because there no longer is a staff member to do them.

• Anna Maria resident Bob Carter has volunteered to help create a development plan.

In other business, board members approved Patty McBean as vice chair and Lindsay Sauls as secretary.

Food and Wine on Pine set for Saturday

SUN file photo

The Waterfront booth was a popular one at last
year's event. This year visitors have more than 20 food
booths to choose from and a selection of 30 wines and beers.

ANNA MARIA – Food, wine, beer, music, art and actors – does it get any better?

OK – a beautiful sunny day on the Island, and that about rounds out what to expect on Saturday, May 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Food and Wine on Pine on Pine Avenue.

Experience a delicious variety of food from more than 20 of the area's best restaurants, 30 upscale wines, craft and domestic beers, 32 juried artists as well as national chalk artists, actors portraying Anna Maria's historical characters, a Kentucky Derby tent, an art tent featuring artwork by local school children and an activity area for kids with old school games and activities.

Admission is $5 and includes an armband, a wine glass and food tray. Kids 12 years old and under are admitted free. Food and beverage tickets are $1 each at ticket booths along the street, and ATM access is available.

Wine and beer are available as a tasting for one ticket or by the glass with a 6-ounce glass of wine for five tickets and a 12-ounce glass of beer for three to five tickets.

Free parking is offered at The Center of Anna Maria Island, two blocks away at 407 Magnolia Ave. Free parking and a free trolley are available at CrossPointe Fellowship at the entrance to the city at 8605 Gulf Drive.

Proceeds will benefit the following arts and culture groups – Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra, The Anna Maria Island Preservation Trust, Cultural Connections, The Artists' Guild of Anna Maria Island, The Anna Maria Island Historical Society, The Center of Anna Maria Island and the American Cancer Society.

For more information, visit: or call (941) 778-8705.

Area restaurants participating in Food and Wine on Pine:

• Anna Maria Oyster Bar: chipolte oysters;

• Blue Marlin: square grouper sliders, lobster corn dogs, grouper tacos;

• EnRich, A Bistro: tomatillo cazpacho, tuna poke, mini carrot cake cupcakes;

• Gamble Creek Farm: squash blossoms stuffed with Sandbar house made ricotta cheese, goat cheese lightly breaded and flash fried and served with Romesco sauce;

• Harry's Grill and Bistro: cheese balls, chili, bacon wrapped shrimp;

Island Spice: chicken tikka Marsala, lamb curry tandoori chicken combo, samosa mangolassi mint cooler;

• Polpo Pizza Company: artisanal charcuterie plate, wood-fired pizza, limoncello-misu, assorted San Pellegrino beverages;

• Fratello's Chicago Pizzeria: Chicago Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago dogs;

• Sage Biscuit Cafe: beer cheese soup, mini crab omletes, brisket sliders;

• Southern Slush: wine slushies;

• Sugar Cubed: coffee and tea bar, Key Lime pie with raspberry coulis;

Beach House: hushpuppies with honey butter, braised Joe Island middle neck clams and Cortez bottarga;

• The Feast: Key West coconut shrimp with orange ginger sauce, Bohemian conch fritters;

• The White Horse Pub: cottage pie, smoked pork with Sriracha;

• Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub: tater tots, pork sliders made with local wild boar;

• Sandbar: smoked Mt. Hood king salmon with black opal caviar, cornbread muffins with bacon jam;

• Seafood Shack: shrimp and grits, blackened fresh fish sandwiches;
• The Drunken Poet Cafe: pad Thai vegetable, laab (spicy Thai chicken salad);

• Tsunami Sushi and Hibachi Grill: Waikiki roll, double J roll, stuffed shrimp, gyoza, lotus rangoons;

• Southeast High School: cheddar bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies;

• Traveling Gourmet: skirt steak skewers with chimichurri sauce, watermelon crab salad with mango and balsamic drizzle, red wine infused chocolate cake;

• Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor: mini sundae with crumbled chocolate chip cookies and sea salt caramel, mini ice cream cones with toasted coconut ice cream, mini ice cream sandwiches, big Tex grilled cheese, mini burger sliders with pickles on fresh baked potato roll;

• Vinny's Italian Kitchen: porchetta on focaccia bread, eggplant rollatini, house salad with balsamic glaze, cannolis and sfogliatelle;

• Marilyn's Toffee and More: homemade toffees

In addition Covadonga Cigars will offer authentic Cuban cigars and Sea Salt Florida will offer a variety of sea salts.

Wines will be offered by Southern, Stacole, Breakthru/Noble, Republic-National, Johnson Brothers, Masciarelli, Opici, Buonafide, McNeisse, PRP and South Africa Tourist Grown.

Beer sponsor JJTaylor will provide five beer tents. Each brewery will have about four different beers to sample, plus one draft. Yuengling and Miller Lite also will be available.

Experience the Kentucky Derby at FWP


The Sail, Sun and Sip basket is one of seven that will be raffled.

The Kentucky Derby tent, Pine Avenue Downs, will be located in the vacant lot at the corner of North Shore Drive and Pine Avenue during the Food and Wine on Pine festival this Saturday, May 7.

For the hat contest, contestants can come anytime after 11:30 a.m. wearing their Kentucky Derby hat for a photo, and visitors will vote all day for the winner. Hat contestants will return at 5:30 p.m., and the winner will be announced at 6 p.m.

The first place winner will receive a $100 Beach Bistro gift card and the second place winner will receive a $50 Waterfront restaurant gift card. There is no charge to enter or to vote.

There will be seven chance drawing baskets – All Around B'Town, Island Stay and Getaway, Pine Avenue Downs Derby, Stoll and Shop Pine Avenue, The Center of Anna Maria Island Membership and More, Chiles Group and Sip, Sail and Spa.

Visitors will place their tickets in the containers for the basket/baskets they would like to win. The drawing will be after the race at the Kentucky Derby Tent.

There also will be a 50/50 drawing. There will be a box for each horse in the race, and visitors will put their 50/50 tickets in the box or boxes of the horses they want to win.

Tickets for the baskets and the drawing are one for $2, three for $5, eight for $10 or an arms length for $20

All proceeds from the baskets will go to the Manatee County Unit of the American Cancer Society (ACS) . In the 50/50 drawing, 50 percent will go to the ACS, 25 percent to a ticket out of the box of the horse that won the Kentucky Derby, 15 percent to show and 10 percent to place. You do not need to be present to win.

There will be 2 large screen TVs to watch the Kentucky Derby and high top and low top tables to relax at anytime of the day. Mint juleps and Kentucky mules will be served.

TIGER grant application submitted


This illustrated map included in the grant application details
some of the projects proposed for the south end of the Island

BRADENTON – Island and County officials are hoping to catch a tiger by the tail; as in a $17.8 million federal TIGER grant.

According to Manatee County Director of Property Management Charlie Bishop, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant application was submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday, April 27.

If awarded, the Anna Maria Island Multimodal Connections grant would provide federal funding for numerous Island projects.

The grant application includes parking and stormwater improvements at the North Coquina boat ramp, including space for Bridge Street-area employees and visitors to park and catch a trolley or shutttle; a water taxi dock at the north ramp; American Disablities Act enhancements, restrooms, showers, landcaping, park benches, trash receptacles and more.

Of particular importance to the three Island cities would be funding for a bike and pedstrian trail that would run the length of the Island and include signage and lighting.

Manatee County is the lead applicant and the grant narrative provided by Bishop says, "The municipalities of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria will be partners in supporting the project through permitting and securing necessary approvals to construct the project elements. All three Island cities will also be providing proportionate funding to the project."

The Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Florida Department of Transportation are also listed as partners, with FDOT looking to develop sidewalks and other safety improvements along Gulf Drive.

The grant narrative says, "A system of high-quality multimodal facilities that allow people to walk, bike and use transit comfortably and safely is part of the future vision in Florida. A largely built-out roadway system has been stretched to capacity in Florida and in Manatee County. While more and more people want to enjoy the beaches, the waterfront is a limited public resource that needs transportation investments to efficiently provide access for current and future generations. The mobility and access to these public beaches is of vital importance toward rebuilding the growing tourism based economy and the jobs it supports. Part of the solution is to better develop safe and attractive alternatives to driving.

"This project proposes to implement several elements of an improved multimodal transportation system along coastal Manatee County. One element of the project is the improvement and extension of a piece of the statewide SUNTrails system, a shared-use, non-motorized trail network planned to span from the Florida Keys to the Panhandle. Regionally connected trails are becoming the expectation in Florida's future, and this project seeks to implement a high-priority segment of the Anna Maria Island SUNTrail. The project also proposes to implement a future water taxi service to better connect the beaches and the mainland."

The application packet included several letters of support from interested parties, including all three Island mayors, whose sometimes identical remarks suggests they worked from the same letter template.

In his letter, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, "The complete AMI SUNTrail will create incredible recreational opportunities."

Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson's letter said, "The new trail systems will give residents and visitors a healthy and hassle-free alternative to vehicle travel. Many people will also use the new path to get to and from work."

Echoing statements made by the other mayors, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon's letter concluded by saying, "The AMI SUNTrail project offers wide-ranging benefits to the residents, business owners and visitors of Manatee and Sarasota counties. I believe it deserves serious consideration."

Letters of support were also submitted by AMI Chamber of Commerce President Debra Wing, Realtor Mike Norman and Don Meilner & Son Construction.

Bishop said the county may learn in August or September if the grant has been awarded, but applicants are given no definite response date.

Commission discusses two ordinances

Pat Copeland | Sun

Rental sign regulations in Anna Maria state that
the maximum size of a sign shall be four square feet
(single surface) and the sign body shall be oriented
parallel to the street and located no further than
10 feet from the main structure on the lot or parcel.
The maximum height of the sign shall be three feet
from the surrounding grade. Fixed attachments
or information boxes are not allowed.

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners last week discussed changes to the ordinance governing vacation rental advertising, including the following amendments:

• No more than one sign shall be placed on the property;

• The maximum size of the sign shall be four square feet and the sign shall be oriented parallel to the street and located no further than 10 feet from the main structure on the lot or parcel. Information boxes are prohibited;

• The sign shall be freestanding and securely anchored into the ground;

• There shall be no fluorescent sign colors;

• All signage at vacation rental properties must be brought into compliance within 120 days of the enactment of this ordinance.

The ordinance was modeled after Anna Maria's. There will be further discussion at the May 12 work session.

Commissioners also discussed revisions to the ordinance regarding corner lots. Revisions included definitions of through lot, front yard, secondary front yard and rear yard.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said she returned to the ordinance the following exception for dead end streets that was removed in a previous ordinance:

"If the property owner chooses to have the address on the dead end street, the yard facing the dead end street shall be the designated front yard and subject to the minimum front yard requirement. Otherwise, the setback from the dead end street shall be the minimum side yard setback required in the district in which the property is located."

Petruff said commissioners could move forward with first reading of the ordinance, which would give them time to decide if they want to allow any encroachments in the secondary front yard, as recently proposed by a property owner.

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