The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 47 - September 21, 2016


Drive is on for parking garage

Carol Whitmore

joe hendricks | SUN

Joe's Eats & Sweets in Bradenton Beach has been mentioned
as a possible location for a paid parking facility.

BRADENTON BEACH – For the second week in a row, a member of the City Commission has proposed the construction of a paid parking garage in the vicinity of the Bridge Street business district.

When giving his commissioner's report during the Thursday, Sept. 15 meeting, Commissioner Jake Spooner suggested the city consider purchasing the property at the corner of Gulf Drive and Third Street South owned by Joe Spallino, the proprietor of the Joe's Eats & Sweets ice cream parlor.

Spooner also suggested the city consider approaching John Hardesty to gauge his interest in selling the property at 106 Third Street South that is adjacent to Spallino's property. Spooner believes the two properties combined would provide the space needed for a 200-space parking facility.

Spooner provided the commission with some basic information he obtained from Current Builders regarding a parking garage that firm built for the city of Delray Beach in their downtown area and he estimated to cost of the project to be in the neighborhood of $4 million.

He said Spallino has already received an offer for his property, so time would be of essence if the commission wished to pursue the idea of purchasing his property.

"I think it's a great idea," Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said.

During the impromptu discussion that ensured, Mayor Bill Shearon acknowledged that the potential parking garage location next to the public works building that he proposed a week earlier was too small to accommodate a multi-story parking facility.

Spooner suggested the county might be willing to help fund the construction of a parking structure, but he doubted the county would assist with the purchase of any needed land.

He also said his conversations with city staff indicated the city's comprehensive plan would have to be amended to allow for a stand-alone parking facility. The comp plan currently only allows for parking elements directly associated with a specific business or businesses.

The commission agreed to further discuss Spooner's proposition at a workshop scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20. If there is sufficient commission interest, the potential property acquisitions could be further discussed at a future Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting because the proposed properties are located in the CRA district, which might allow for the use of CRA funds.

Tuesday's workshop was also slated to include additional discussion on the funding for the replacement of the day dock at the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

When further discussing his parking garage proposal later in the week, Spooner said he planned to present a couple different scenarios to the commission for consideration at Tuesday's workshop.

One scenario would involve a partnership with Spallino in which he providing his land to the city in exchange for a share of the revenues generated by a parking garage. The city would then purchase Hardesty's property in order to provide the additional space needed for a parking facility.

"I think it's be a better deal for the city and for Joe if we did it this way because the city wouldn't have to pay for his land, and Joe would get a nice retirement revenue out of the deal," Spooner said.

The alternative scenario would involve the city purchasing both properties.

Spooner envisions using an automated payment system that alleviates or minimizes the need for fee collection and enforcement personnel. He said the city's share of the parking revenue could be used to pay off any debt incurred and after those obligations are met, the parking garage would provide a continued source of revenue for the city.

Franchise moratorium approved on first reading

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance establishing a moratorium on new franchise, or formula, businesses for eight months beginning June 14.

The issue began when commissioners learned that Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins were planning to come to the Anna Maria Island Centre, owned by the Benderson Development Company. This was followed by complaints from other business owners and residents about losing the Island's character and Old Florida charm.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said, "It allows you to take a step back and study the issue and see if anything would work well with Holmes Beach on how to regulate these types of businesses."

Commissioner Carol Soustek asked if an "established business on the Island wants to sell to a chain. How would we approach that?"

"If business X were to sell to business Y, then Y can't get a sign because it's a new formula business," replied Petruff.

"You can't stop the contractual relationships between the parties, but you will not grant a license to the new business."

Commissioner Jean Peelen said people used to joke about franchise businesses moving to the Island because "there was no business in the summertime and fall. However we are becoming more and more a year 'round vacation spot and that's being sold by the TDC (Manatee County Tourist Development Council).

"They're pushing the shoulder seasons – spring, summer and fall, therefore, we're becoming very attractive to formula businesses, so this is the perfect time to enact this."

Commissioner Pat Morton agreed and said, "The Island used to shut down in May and start back in November."

Chair Judy Titsworth said after the final passage of the ordinance, the mayor and staff will come back to the commission with possible solutions.

Sun nabs 8 awards

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


The twister won first place by Sun contributor Tyler Kapela, in the statewide
Florida Press Association Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.

A photo of a twister hitting the Skyway Bridge and a cartoon of a cyclist being ticketed by a cop were two entries that helped the Anna Maria Island Sun walk away with eight awards in this year's Florida Press Association Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.

The Spot News Photo winner was taken by Sun contributor Tyler Kapela and framed the dramatic moment just before a tornado descended from the sky and slammed into the lower portion of the Skyway.

FPA judges said: A once-in-a-lifetime photo and the epitome of the perfect spot news photo. Stunning.

The other first place entry was from The Sun's multi-award winning cartoonist Steve Borggren. The cartoon depicts a bike rider whose pants have come unbuckled and has been pulled over by a traffic cop. The caption reads: I'm citing you for not buckling up.? The cartoon was in response to a Sun survey that asked if bicyclists should be made to comply with traffic laws.

The annual FPA contest includes more than 1,500 entries from newspapers throughout the state of Florida. The Sun competed in Division B, for newspapers with circulations of 7,000 to 15,000. The Sun was the only newspaper from Anna Maria Island to win an award.

The other winners for The Sun were:

• Second Place, Ricardo Fonseca, Front Page Makeup, Twister Hits Skyway;

• Second Place, Mike Field, Editorial Writing, Goodbye and Good Riddance to Port Dolphin;

• Second Place, Monica Simpson, Sports Photograpy, Little Flag Footballers;

• Second Place, Pat Copeland, Headline Writing, One pool, two pools, old pool, new pools:

• Third Place, Cindy Lane, Investigative Reporting, Under Egmont;

• Third Place, Joe Hendricks, Breaking News Story, Twister Hits Skyway.

Bert Harris claims continue


Tom vaught | sun

The owners of this vacation rental at 804 N. Shore Dr.
are seeking an allowed occupancy of 18 guests.



ANNA MARIA – The city of Anna Maria received two more Bert Harris claims last week.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, a claim was filed by the Blalock Walters law firm on behalf Benjamin and Julie Asper for the four-bedroom short-term vacation rental they own at 507 S. Bay Blvd. The Aspers are claiming $345,000 in lost property value due to the occupancy limits imposed on a rental unit that had a pre-vacation rental ordinance occupancy of 10 persons.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, the Steven M. Jones Law Firm filed a claim on behalf of Violet and Neil Rosenbilt, the owners of a six-bedroom plus-den vacation rental located at 804 N. Shore Dr. The Rosenbilt's claim cites $525,000 in assessed lost property value for a structure that listed a pre-rental ordinance occupancy of 18 guests.

The Asper's claim is in line with several settlement offers recently approved by the City Commission that would allow two persons per bedroom plus two additional guests and result in no monetary settlements with the property owners.

Like 20 of the 28 settlement proposals presented to the commission earlier this month, the Rosenbilts are seeking an occupancy limit that would allow four more guests than the two-plus-two provision would allow. Property owners seeking more than the two-plus-two occupancy limits are now being offered the two-plus-two provision or a purchase offer that represents a 1.5 percent increase over the assessed property value.

According to City Attorney Becky Vose, some of the first 29 claimants who received settlement offers have accepted the two-plus two provision as an alternative to a monetary settlement. As of Sunday, Vose had not heard back from any of the 20 property owners who recently received purchase offers as an alternative to the two-plus-two provision the city is willing to accept. Earlier this month, Vose told the commission she does not intend to present them with any settlement offers that offer occupancy limits in excess of two-plus-two.

To date, 67 Bert Harris claims have been filed with the city and settlement offers have been made on 57 of those claims. By law, a settlement offer must be made in response to every individual claim filed.

Holmes Beach receives two more Bert Harris claims

HOLMES BEACH – The city received two more Bert Harris claims from property owners.

Attorney Scott Rudacille, on behalf of client Robin Rokisky, filed a claim for the property at 3078 66th St., which she said she purchased in 2013 as an investment property for vacation rentals.

According to the claim, "the property contains a six-bedroom home, which is configured for, advertised for and regularly rented to parties of 15," and when the city approved Ordinance 15-12, it limited the occupancy to 12.

The claim stated, "According to the appraisal report, "the property is worth $1,325,000 without the occupancy limitation and is worth $980,00 with the occupancy limitation in place. Thus the value of the property has been reduced by $345,000 as a result of the city's adoption of the ordinance."

The second case involves Lizzie Lu's Island retreat, 214 54th St., Units A and B, and is being handled by Morgan Bentley, of Bentley & Bruning.

According to the claim, Lizzie Lu owns 10 parcels, which are used as short-term vacation rentals, and one of those is affected by Ordinance 15-12, which restricts it to a lower occupancy.

The claim stated that the restriction causes "a substantial diminution in the property owner's reasonable, investment backed expectations. While the property may be entitled to a non-conforming status, there is no practical way for the petitioner to change the configuration of the structures on the property such that petitioner may both continue to use the property as per its existing use and comply with the provisions of the ordinance."

The claim also maintains that the property may be entitled to have a larger unit, but it would still be restricted to two bedrooms on each side.

The claim states an appraisal establishes the loss in value at $730,000.

Commission pooh-poohs peeing in public

HOLMES BEACH – City commissioners last week reviewed an ordinance establishing public urination as an offense with a $75 fine.

"We need an ordinance that allows us to fine people who urinate on the beach," Police Chief Bill Tokajer explained. "We see it every day. We drive down and see somebody in the bushes taking a leak.

"Right now, as a police officer, we can't take legal action. We have to have a citizen that would be a willing participant to say it is offensive to them and sign an affidavit."

Commissioner Jean Peelen protested due to the fact that the ordinance, as well as one regarding parking, had not come to commissioners at a work session first.

"I don't know how they got to that stage without ever being brought up before this commission," she said. "Things should come here, and we decide whether or not to go forward."

However, Chair Judy Titsworth defended the action and said, "I have no objection. We want staff to let us know if there's loopholes or things making it difficult for them to do their jobs. I think it saves time."

"People have been peeing for years," Peelen responded. "I don't think one month is going to make a big difference."

She asked if it took attorney time, and Tokajer responded, "I'm sure it did. We're looking at housekeeping and making things cleaner."

City Attorney Patricia Petruff asked if defecation is a problem and added that if they are approving an ordinance it should include both.

Tokajer said defecation hasn't been an issue, but noted, "That's fine with me."

However, Commissioner Carol Soustek brought down the house with her remark, "I'd like to get ahead of this instead of behind it all the time."

Commissioners agreed to add defecation to the ordinance.

Commissioners on rental ads: No fibbing

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners reviewed changes to the vacation rental ordinance that were added to address illegal advertising of vacation rental units.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said Section 4.14 makes the city's expectations clear by stating that all advertising shall state the maximum occupancy limit of the vacation rental unit and the maximum parking.

The following statement was added to the section, "Advertisements that do not contain this information or that contain inaccurate information, shall be deemed a violation of this ordinance and subject to the penalties contained in Section 4.11."

She said it would take awhile for the city to issue all the certificates and asked, "Is there any time frame on how long they have to get it on their website?"

Police Chief Bill Tokajer replied, "Their advertising needs to be listed once they're issued their certificate. It will be a reasonable amount of time. We're more concerned with compliance."

Mayor Bob Johnson added, "As we put this together, we are learning through this process. We have to be careful not going into too much detail too soon.

"We have plenty of time to make adjustments. We're trying to write something we can work with that makes sense."


Petruff questioned a provision in the penalty section that states, "After a third violation or an irreversible violation, the property shall lose the vacation rental certificate for one year from the date of violation making it ineligible to be used for vacation rental."

"I do not recommend that we yank that license. I do not want to be the test case in the state of Florida for that particular action.

"Basically it would be ratcheting fines but not taking away the license. It flies in the face of state law that says we cannot prohibit vacation rentals," she explained.

However, she advised, "Have the fine big enough to make an impression," and commissioners agreed to increase the fine after a third violation to $5,000.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman asked how to deal with half duplexes that are supposed to have condo documents. Petruff said they would check that when they get the recorded deeds, but "unfortunately for some people it will be a surprise."

Grossman pointed to the prohibition on diving boards and platforms and asked if they could make existing ones have insurance coverage, and Petruff said no and explained, "You are meddling in people's private property rights."

Commissioners agreed to move the ordinance to first reading.

$12.3 million budget gets first OK

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved the 2.25 millage rate and $12.3 million budget on first reading last week.

City Treasurer Lori Hill explained that the budget includes $187,000 in additional revenue from vacation rental certificates, and outside agency funding of $56,000, which includes The Center, Keep Manatee Beautiful and any other agencies that request funding.

In reply to a question from resident Jim Kihm regarding funding for The Center, Chair Judy Titsworth said, "There is money for the community center in this year's budget, but the City Commission has not agreed if we're going to fund it this year. If not, it will be rolled over to the general fund."

"I want to express my displeasure that its in the budget at all," Kihm said. "I don't think it has a place in there. I don't think it's appropriate for any of the cities on the Island to be placing government funds in a non-profit."

Commissioner Jean Peelen said the funds are not earmarked for any agency in particular and Kihm replied, "I find that a very slippery slope that we have that little wedge in there, and people can find ways of making things happen."

Peelen asked if they planned to discuss The Center's funding, and Titsworth said, "It will come back to us on a future agenda. If we do any more than the standard, they have to show a need. There will be no check until the mayor comes to us and tells us what he wishes to be done."

The proposed budget shows total operating revenues of $6,723,918 and carryovers/reserves of $5,630,725 for a total of $12,354,643. It shows expenditures of $3,964,202 for personnel, $1,749,168 for operating expenses, $1,704,070 for capital outlay, $4,858,103 in assigned/unrestrictive funds and $79,100 for debt service for total of $12,354,643.

Copies of the proposed budget are available in city hall, 5801 Marina Drive. The final public hearing on the budget will be Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m.

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