The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 12 - January 4, 2017


Shamrock Shiver attracts crowd

Carol Whitmore


The waters of the Gulf of Mexico weren't as cold as the
waters up North, but when a wave came by, the crowd felt it.

BRADENTON BEACH – For the ninth year in a row, a group of hearty people emulated the Polar Bear Clubs up north and ran into a body of water on New Year's Day. Instead of freezing waters, these people ran into the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico, and they also were participants in a costume party, with the winner wearing a bright red wig and a seashell bra, dressed like a mermaid.

Tide Tables bartender Louie Mura barely edged out the Bowman Real Estate/Keller Williams Real Estate of Holmes Beach team of spotted Dalmatians hollering, "Woof, woof."

The crowd was estimated at 135 and following the plunge, participants went to Clancy's on Cortez Road to celebrate the first day of the year.

Clancy's owner Rayma Stowe was there as the crowd converged on the beach toward the water in front of amazed beachgoers. She followed them back to the bar where a football signed by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Presscott was auctioned for $500.

2016: An eventful year
Carol Whitmore

file photo

An artist's rendering of the pool area at the Waterline hotel
now under construction.

The word of the year for 2016 seems to be Bert as in Harris, not Bert and Ernie, although a little comic relief from that pair could be welcome.

Bert Harris is author of the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act. This act basically states that when the action of a local government limits the use of a property, the government must pay the property owner for the loss of value. After the city receives a Bert Harris claim, it has 150 days to make a settlement offer to the property owner.

When the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach approved regulations that included limiting the occupancy of vacation rentals, the race was on with property owners filing suit as fast as rabbits beget bunnies.

Anna Maria has had 87 Bert Harris claims totaling more than $30 million; as of Dec. 30, settlements have been reached in 58 claims and 18 more have been offered. Holmes Beach has 17 claims for a total of nearly $4.2 million; none have come to the City Commission for discussion.

We say: Allowing multitudes of guests in rentals destroys the very reason people come to the Island. Imagine.

Wait a minute Mr. Postman

Peggy Meyers and Jack Jackson retired from the Holmes Beach post office after 21 years. In April, new proprietors Julie Quinlivan and Sally Woodward cut the ribbon on a new contract postal unit.

We say: SWAK

Raindrops keep falling on my head

In April, 1.6 inches of rain flooded the Island.

In May, 5.5 inches of rain flooded the Island.

In June, TS Colin flooded the Island, closed the Bradenton Beach pier and damaged the day dock.

In September TS Hermine flooded the Island.

Experts say climate change will create more severe storms, heavier rainfall and coastal flooding. Mr. Trump says climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

We say: Really, Mr. Trump?

Bad boys bad boys

Michael Carleton got 21 months for taking deposits on rental units that were not available and paid thousands in judgments to victims. The previous year Carleton was convicted of mail fraud by postal authorities in the same case.

Gerald Alois Harles II made armed threats against his mother and police, bringing out the SWAT team, which took him into custody without incident.

Contractor Chris Arnold was ordered to pay restitution of nearly $93,000 to the city of Holmes Beach and $3,000 its police department. Arnold was convicted of scheming to defraud the city in a 2012 curb replacement project.

We say: Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Passing the torch

Administrative Assistant Mary Stephens retired after 30 years with the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District (WMFR).

Deputy Chief Brett Pollock retired after 36 years with WMFR.

Clerk Sherry Vetter retired after 28 years with WMFR.

Long time Guidance Counselor Cindi Harrison retired from Anna Maria Elementary.

Anna Maria's Sgt. Paul Davis was reassigned to internal affairs, and Sgt. Russell Schnering took over the Sheriff's Office substation in March.
Rex Beach retired after 40 years of lifeguarding.

Holmes Beach Police Officer Rob Velardi retired after 30 years.

We say: Your service has been invaluable to this community.

Being crabby

In Anna Maria, crabbers and shark fishers got into a pissing contest over territory, and after a series of meetings with state and city officials, communication and awareness resolved the issue. The issue resurfaced in the fall resulting in new signs warning about tampering with crab traps.

We say: Watch your fingers.

An open and shut case

In January, the four island cities asked the Coast Guard for 30-minute bridge openings year 'round. In June, the Coast Guard denied a request for 30-minute openings for the Longboat Pass Bridge.

We say: Cobwebs are growing on this request.

Talk to me

The FDOT holds a meeting to get public input on Cortez Bridge replacement, and the Anna Maria Island Bridge aesthetics committee selects options on piers, overlooks, railings and design theme.

We say: We've come a long way baby.

Preserving paradise

A judge ruled against allowing Long Bar Pointe developers to build a marina and dredge a navigation channel through coastal mangroves into Sarasota Bay.

Cortez Cultural center opens.

Boardwalks are under construction at Holmes Beach's Grassy Point Preserve.

Perico Preserve opened.

After 10 years of wrangling with the owner, FISH bought the final property in the preserve in Cortez, giving it 100 acres on Sarasota Bay.

Home Sweet Home, the group formed last year to attract new residents to the island and keep the current residents on the Island families, continues to thrive.

We say: We know what we've got before its gone.

Ask and ye shall receive

At the first of the year, WMFR began its quest to have firefighters trained in advanced life support on fire engines. In November, the four island cities supported the request, however, county officials continue to remain mum on the request.

The four island cities banded together to seek a greater share of the county's half cent tax, which was approved by voters in November, to pay for the infrastructure impact of tourism, but were discouraged by the county's cool reception.

We say: Don't hold your breath.

One big parking lot

In January, Island officials sought immediate ways to impact traffic congestion, but are still stuck in traffic in December.

Holmes Beach commissioners approved an ordinance to prohibit parking on some rights of way between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. except for residents with permits. The mayor immediately vetoed it, and commissioners did not have the super majority to override the veto.

Bradenton Beach commissioners support a parking garage proposal at the corner of GD and Third Street South.

We say: What happened to that gondola proposal?

London Bridge is falling down

The Anna Maria Commission learned that the city pier needs repairs at $1.4 to $1.7 million or replacement at $2.3 to $2.8 million. They agreed to repair and sought matching funds from the county. Pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder offered $500,000 toward rehab with conditions, but the city commission declined with harsh comments from two commissioners, sending Schoenfelder fuming. However, in December, a new commission agreed to resume negotiations.

Bradenton Beach commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the county for matching funds for a new day dock.

The county completed a groin replacement project in Bradenton Beach after months of delays due to storms and construction issues and a cost that grew from $2.1 million to $6 million.

We say: Fix it or forget it.

Up a tree

In May, a special magistrate ruled that the owners of the tree house must comply with a code board order to remove the violations or demolish the structure and ordered a fine of $50 per day starting from July 22, 2015. The tree house attorney's appeal of the order was dismissed.

In another action, a judge ruled that an initiative petition to allow voters to decide if the tree house is legal is prohibited under Florida law, but this ruling is under its second appeal. Meanwhile the owners applied to the city for an after the fact building permit for structure.

We say: Leaf no stone unturned.

Sue me, sue you blues

In March, developer Shawn Kaleta and Beach to Bay filed a federal suit against city claiming the city has created a hostile environment filled with animosity toward them. In July a judge dismissed three of the four counts.

A judge upheld Anna Maria's eight-person occupancy limit challenged by Florida Gulf Coast Vacation Homes.

A developer filed a lawsuit against the city of Holmes Beach over the commission's denial to vacate a portion of Second Avenue adjacent to Manatee Beach.

The Bradenton Beach commission approved a settlement agreement on a 2015 lawsuit by Allan and Michael Bazzy challenging pier sublease agreements.

We say: In the end, we pay the lawyer's bills.

Big bucks

The Center officials burned the mortgage in March, but financial problems continue to plague the organization.

Retired CPA John Chambers developed an investment strategy that would save Anna Maria thousands annually. The plan included refinancing City Pier Park saving $30,000 a year.

Nearly 18 acres of canal front property in Cortez sells for $10 million.

We say: Money in the bank

One never-ending story ends

Mainsail Development gets a building permit. Construction is well on its way for this project that had its beginnings in 2000 with an ambitious plan by Nick Easterling for a development called Tidemark. It survived numerous owners, lawsuits, special master hearings and protests to become Waterline, the Island's first full service hotel.

We say: Book me a room with a view.

Stop work order

Bradenton Beach resident Priscilla VonAhnen sought a six-month building moratorium on all residential units in R-1 and R-2. She presented a citizen-initiated moratorium ordinance, which the city commission declined to approve. However, voters agreed with Von Ahnen and approved the moratorium in November.

We say: Power to the people.

At the ballot box

In June, Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman did not qualify after he failed to open a campaign bank account, and David Youngs was disqualified from the Anna Maria commission race for the same reason.

In the August primary, Bradenton Beach voters decided that term limits apply after an error occurred during a charter review. This resulted in Commissioner Ed Straight being termed out. The remaining commissioners could not agree on a replacement, resulting in another card cut, with Marilyn Maro's ace winning the seat.

John Chappie, who gave up his county commission seat to run for Bradenton Beach City Commission was elected.

Former Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman was reappointed to his vacant seat.

Newcomer Brian Seymour beat incumbent Chuck Webb for a seat on the Anna Maria City Commission.

We say: Don't complain if you don't vote.

Divine intervention

Gloria Dei seeks a rezone of part of its property to medium density residential to sell it and invest the proceeds in order to maintain the church. City commissioners, fearing that a glut of vacation rental units would be built, declined the request. Residents hope to preserve the land as green space.

We say: It takes a village to save a church.

Franchise freak-out

After learning that Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins are coming to town, Holmes Beach commissioners approved a moratorium on franchise businesses. Anna Maria followed suit.

We say: We'll have fries with that.

Nasty business

Red tide causes fish kills and respiratory distress.

Mosquito borne zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects, scares the bejesus out of everybody.

We say: Pestilence persists despite our best efforts.

Simply the best

Jay Johnson was named WMFR firefighter of the Year and Deputy Chief Brett Pollock was named WMFR Fire Officer of the Year.

Mike Walker was named Holmes Beach Officer of the Year.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale was honored for 30 years of service to the city.

Jack Brennan was named Anna Maria's Citizen of Year

We say: Take a bow.

Breaking records

Turtles have record year with 435 nests and 18,328 hatchlings to the sea.

Tourism fuels the local economy with an $867 million impact in 2016.

We say: Call Guinness.

The Sun's Person of the year: Ed Moss

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Rev. Ed Moss at the pulpit at CrossPointe Fellowship.


The Anna Maria Island Sun's Person of the Year is Ed Rev. Ed Moss, pastor at CrossPointe Fellowship.

Son of Island pioneers Elizabeth and Gene Moss, Ed Moss was born in Bradenton and grew up with his twin brother, Jim, on Willow Avenue at the beach.

After attending college with no goal in mind, he joined a rock and roll band. That's when he God spoke through his heart, according to a 2010 interview with The Sun. He went back to college and through seminary and moved to Miami at an inner city church.

He moved back to the Island in 2010 to preach at CrossPoint Fellowship, formerly Island Baptist Church.

According to parishioner Marion Duncan, who attends the church with his wife, Judy, "When he came to the Island, he said we should serve the community."

"When he was in Miami, he worked in a church in a low a income area," Judy Duncan said. "He tried to reach the people there who would otherwise not be reached."

She said he gets involved in the community and does what he preaches.

"He puts his money where his mouth is," she added.

Moss's devotion to God was passed on to his son, David, who recently returned from China as a missionary.

Moss can often be seen at festivals, with members of his congregation, helping out. He is the driving force behind the Island's Community BBQ Honoring Veterans in November, at CrossPointe. He planned the first one five years ago to salute veterans and, as he likes to say, to bring the community together.

"Whenever we need help, Ed is there with his congregation," said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Deb Wing. "His congregation works hard and when they finish, thy ask if there's anything else we need."

Wing said Moss is a wonderful asset for the Island.

Wayne Bronkema is CrossPointe Fellowship's outreach and discipleship director, and he works with Ed Moss.

"One thing I admire about him is he wants to help, and he does his best to be genuine and real," he said. "He has a sense of community and leads by example."

Judy Moss says she's been with her husband through thick and thin.

"We've been married for 36 years, and he was a rock and roll drummer back then," she said. "It was shortly after we were married when he came to know the Lord.

He enrolled in Southeast Bible College, and after graduating he attended seminary in South Carolina," she added, "After that, we moved to Miami where we spent seven years serving multi-cultured people."

She said her husband is sincere in his desire to serve people and the Lord.

"It is his desire: love God, love one another," she said. "He wants to reach out in the community, for instance, he's giving free music lessons now for anyone who wants to learn."

Pier rehabilitation RFP issued

ANNA MARIA – At the request of commissioners Dale Woodland, Nancy Yetter and Carol Carter, the city of Anna Maria has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for firms interested in providing consulting and professional engineering services for the restoration of the Anna Maria City Pier.

The three commissioners would like to have additional firms to consider in addition to the Royal Palm Beach-based Bridge Design Associates, the firm that provided the city with the initial structural assessment of the pier last February.

Manatee County administrators have tentatively offered to contribute up to $1 million in matching funds for the anticipated $2 million rehabilitation of the wooden pier, but the county's offer is thus far contingent on the city using Bridge Design Associates as the engineering firm.

The RFP is now available at the Building Department section of the city website, The RFP will also be advertised in one daily newspaper, two business publications and online at multiple RFP websites.

Proposals will be accepted until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14. A public opening of the sealed bids received will then take place at city hall that day at 2 p.m. According to Mayor Dan Murphy, the estimated cost to issue and advertise the RFP is approximately $450, with minimal staff time involved.

Board recommends smaller homes

joe hendricks | SUN

Four large vacation rentals are now under construction
at the end of 11th Street South in Bradenton Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Planning and Zoning Board is recommending the city commission adopt land development code amendments that would significantly reduce the size of residential structures.

Aimed primarily reducing vacation rental occupancy, the proposed amendments, if adopted by the commission, would apply to all future development in Bradenton Beach's R-1 and R-2 residential zone districts, including homes built for full-time residents.

"We're recommending the city commission adopt a floor area ratio with a maximum habitable floor area that is 40 percent of your lot size, and your second living level can only be 60 percent of your first living level, with a maximum of 2,000 square feet of floor area," City Planner Alan Garrett said when reading the motion Patty Shay made at the Dec. 28 meeting.

The members then voted 5-1 in favor of forwarding the recommendations to the commission for consideration, with chair John Burns casting the only opposition vote.

If adopted, the owner of a typical 5,000 square foot lot would be allowed to build 2,000 square feet of climate-controlled habitable living space. Additional non-habitable patios, decks, lanais, garages and exterior stairwells would not be counted toward that limit.

The ratios would also apply to duplexes and apply proportionally to structures built on smaller lots. Structures built on larger lots, including combined lots, would be restricted to 2,000 square feet of habitable space.

Current code allows a 3,500 square foot structure with two elevated 1,750 square foot living levels and ground-level parking on 5,000 square foot lots. Working in unison, the proposed ratios would allow for a 1,250 square-foot lower living level and a 750 square-foot upper living level, with parking below.

In addition to addressing vacation rental occupancy, the board's intent also is to reverse the trend of building box-like structures by encouraging more of the cottage-style architecture envisioned in the city's comprehensive plan.

Board debate

Before the amendments were voted on, Burns cited a 2009 study that said the average home size nationwide was 2,700 square feet. He questioned whether 2,000 square feet was an appropriate size limit.

Burns was alone in his opposition to the 60 percent second living level maximum. With property owners already facing reduced living space, Burns felt they should at least be given the option to build two 1,000 square foot living levels and not be forced to downsize the upper level.

"You're accomplishing the same thing. That is something I think needs to be given some consideration," he said.

He said the proposed amendments would punish property owners who previously chose to purchase land and live in Bradenton Beach.

"With a stroke of the pen, you are devaluing the potential value of their property," Burns said, noting the city's potential exposure to Bert Harris claims.

"We can't run in fear of Bert Harris. We have to draw a line in the sand. If they want to live on an Island, they gotta realize they're going to live in a smaller house," Shay countered, while also expressing opposition to Burns' suggestion to allow equal-sized living levels.

Member Reed Mapes, a retired contractor, said he was not worried about Bert Harris claims because he feels the comp plan supports the residents' desire and the city's vision for smaller homes. He also requested future discussion on a four-bedroom limit or limiting bedroom space to 29 percent of the total habitable space.

Member Frank Harrison said he and his wife are considering leaving the Island after 40 years because their home is now the only non-rental left on 11th Street South.

"We've got 440 people that just voted for a moratorium; that says we don't want any more party houses. It doesn't come down to the size of the house, it comes down to the number of people. If the builders don't like it I don't really give a damn," he said.

Garrett will present the proposed amendment language to the board for final review in late January before forwarding it to the commission for discussion in February.

Planning board ready for 2017

joe hendricks | SUN

The Anna Maria Planning and Zoning Board is chaired by Jon Crane
and includes David Youngs, Margaret Jenkins, Jim Conoly and
Carl Pearman (shown from left with Pearman not pictured).

ANNA MARIA – During its last meeting of 2016, the Planning and Zoning Board members elected Jon Crane to serve another term as chair, with David Youngs to serve as vice chair of the volunteer board.

In a separate organizational meeting that took place immediately before the Dec. 20 planning board meeting, Youngs was elected to serve as the presiding officer of the Local Construction Regulation Board.

If needed, the regulation board would provide binding rulings regarding alleged offenses committed by contractors and developers. Created in 2015, the regulation board also consists of fellow-planning board member Carl Pearman. To date, the regulation board has not been asked to conduct a disciplinary hearing.

The Planning and Zoning Board that also includes Margaret Jenkins and Jim Conoly spent much of 2016 reviewing the city's comprehensive plan, which works in unison with the land development code in determining how and where development occurs.

Guided by City Planner Bruce McLaughlin, the year-long review produced recommendations calling for greater emphasis to be placed on bicycle and pedestrian amenities, accommodating modern Internet and streaming technologies and protecting the city's infrastructure and eco-system.

At their recent meeting, the board members discussed a newly-introduced comp plan amendment that would assist with the city's historic preservation efforts, amend stormwater management policies to levels the city can actually attain and add height limits to the comp plan that would further strengthen the city's existing height restrictions, while also preventing the unfettered installation of telecommunication facilities.

When reviewing the proposed amendment, the board recommended removing the language that would give telecommunications providers the ability to seek height variances for the installation of telecom systems – including the newer systems that rely on multiple, short, street-side antenna towers or antennas affixed to buildings rather than a single 150-foot tower.

When city commissioners discussed the interim amendments at their meeting on Dec. 22, they agreed with the planning board's suggestion that the ability to seek a height variance should be removed. McLaughlin said this would leave the city with no safety valve to deal with any unique circumstances that might arise, and he convinced the commission to remove the height limits and telecommunication variances from the amendment and address them as a separate amendment at a later date. Doing so, allowed the preservation and stormwater amendments to be submitted for state review in accordance with state deadlines.

After their final meeting of the year, the planning board members where asked why they give their time to this particular city endeavor.

"I like to see what the city's doing and see if I can help," Jenkins said.

"I like to do it and it's something I can do to make a useful contribution," Conoly said.

"Because the serving the city is an important thing to do to make life better for the rest of us," Youngs said.

"We all do the best we can with the limited resources the good Lord makes available, and I still hue to that creed," Crane said.

Pearman did not attend the Dec. 20 meeting.

Looking back on the board's accomplishments in 2016, McLaughlin said, "They made progress in working on the comprehensive plan, getting it ready to be readopted in whole, and they dealt with some interesting and not so interesting site-specific issues, and they did so with great respect to property rights and the city code."

Local police to cover inauguration

WASHINGTON DC – As plans are made for the inauguration of Donald Trump in the nation's capitol, six Island law enforcement officers are preparing to attend.

Two Bradenton Beach and four Holmes Beach officers were chosen to represent Manatee County at the Jan 20 event.

Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz and police officer John Tsakiris will be going from Bradenton Beach.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said the Bradenton Police Department was in charge of finding men and women to go. He said officers from Bradenton and Palmetto and deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office would fill out the ranks. He said no deputies representing he city Anna Maria contingency were chosen. He said the law enforcement officers volunteered to go.

"They had to be sworn in as federal marshalls," Speciale said. "They be going with riot gear and helmets."

The Holmes Beach officers are Sgt. Vern McGowin and patrolmen Joel Pearce, Mike Walker and Tom Fraser. McGowin said he's not looking forward to facing the cold weather.

"I was born and raised in Florida," he said. "They told us to buy warm coats because what we wear here won't be warm enough."

Romantic comedy at Island Players

mike field | SUN

Tickets are on sale for the second performance of the Island Players.

ANNA MARIA – The Island Players start the year with their second performance of their 68th season with a funny play about romance, "Moon Over the Brewery," by Bruce Graham, directed by Kelly Wynn Woodland.

The play is about a full-time waitress and part-time painter named Miriam. According to the news release, Miriam would love to find male companionship, but her precocious daughter, Amanda, and her imaginary friend, Randolph, have managed to drive away all suitors. Warren the new mailman will try to succeed where others have failed.

The cast includes Maryann Byram as Amanda Waslyk, Eli Gilbert as Randolph, Mark Woodland as Warren Zimmerman and Judy Glynn as Miriam Waslyk. The show is co-produced by Bortell's Lounge, located across Gulf Drive from the Island Players.

Regular show performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There are no performances on Mondays. The box office is open for information and ticket sales 10 days before opening night, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before performances for will call only. All tickets will be held in will call at the box office for pickup. The Island Players Theater is located at the corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue in Anna Maria at 10009 Gulf Drive. Call 941-778-5755 during box office hours for information or to order tickets.

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