Vol. 16 No. 51 - October 19, 2016
Bayfest opens festival season
ANNA MARIA – For the past 16 years, Bayfest has welcomed in what we call our season, where the Island grows with seasonal visitors (snowbirds) and tourists. It also usually heralds cooler temperatures, although not always.
Last Saturday's event had hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors enjoying the music, food, refreshments, vendors and classic cars in slightly cooler weather. When rain rolled through around 4 p.m., it cooled things off a bit, but the rain was short lived, and when it stopped the celebration continued.
The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce changed the configuration so that the walkway was narrower because the vendors were positioned at the sides of Pine Avenue. More...
Board rejects Gloria Dei rezone proposal
HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners last week rejected a motion to approve a comprehensive plan change that would have allowed Gloria Dei Lutheran Church to rezone part of its property from PSP (public/semi public) to R-2 or medium density residential.
City commissioners expressed concerns about a change to R-2, which they felt would encourage rental structures. The R-2 zoning would have allowed for four to five duplex structures.
City Planner Bill Brisson opened the public hearing by stating that both medium and low density residential (R-1) are appropriate uses for the property. He said the planning commission recommended the rezone and said the request was consistent with the comprehensive plan. More...
AMI in line for resort tax funds
Up to $140,000 in resort tax funds could be allocated for day dock improvements and red tide cleanup if the Manatee County Commission approves recommendations made Monday by the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC).
Elliott Falcione, director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), requested that up to $125,000 be reimbursed to the City of Bradenton Beach to replace the damaged floating dock at the Bridge Street Pier, and up to $15,000 be reimbursed to the county's beach maintenance fund to replace money spent on red tide cleanup over the past two months. The TDC approved both requests for consideration by the county commission.
Falcione complimented the county parks department for getting more people and equipment on the Island's beaches the past few weeks to clean up dead fish killed by red tide. More...
Candidates meet and greet at The Center
ANNA MARIA – In their first foray into local elections, officials at The Center of Anna Maria Island hosted a candidates' meet and greet on Friday night.
Those attending included candidates for the District 3 School Board and Manatee County Commission seats, the District 7 Manatee County Commission seat and Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach city commission seats.
Each candidate was given five minutes to speak, followed by an informal question and answer session as candidates mingled among the audience. More...
County officials pitch half-cent tax
BRADENTON – County Commissioners and Manatee County Information Outreach Manager Nick Azzara have been hosting a series of information meetings aimed at garnering voter support for the proposed half-cent infrastructure sales tax.
If adopted by county voters in November, the additional half-cent sales tax would remain in effect for 15 years, generate an estimated $30 million its first year and help fund 190 infrastructure projects proposed throughout the county.
District 3 Commissioner John Chappie hosted his meeting at the Manatee Utilities building on Oct. 5. More...
District 3 candidates respond to questions
MANATEE COUNTY – District 3 candidates Matt Bower, Steve Jonsson and David Zaccagnino are vying for the County Commission seat being vacated by John Chappie. The candidates recently responded to questions posed by The Sun. Here are some of their answers, which have been edited for length.
What can be done to minimize the traffic impact the Pen Bay, Lake Flores and Long Bar Pointe developments have on Cortez and Island residents?
Bower: We have to collaborate with developers, the county, the state and residents to develop plans that include incentives for lessening the number of cars traveling on and off the Island. I have proposed the developers of Lake Flores, Peninsula Bay and Cortez develop public parking areas at each of these designations, while installing a dedicated lane for transit and emergency vehicles to and from the Island, which will include a lane on a new bridge, along with extending the trolley system to Lake Flores. More...
At-large county candidates share their views
MANATEE COUNTY – County voters who live on the Island and in Cortez will help determine the winner of the at-large District 7 County Commission race featuring incumbent Commissioner Betsy Benac and challenger Jack Richardson.
The candidates recently responded to questions submitted by The Sun and here are some of their answers.
What can be done to minimize the traffic impact the Pen Bay, Lake Flores and Long Bar Pointe developments for Cortez and Island residents?
Benac: I propose to implement an area-wide transportation plan that includes multi-modal options and transportation demand management ideas. Mixed-use projects offer the ability to provide for trails, live-work units and other mixed uses, which have the potential for decreasing traffic leaving the site. Park and ride transit options, water taxis, bike shares and car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are just some of the ideas that can be utilized to reduce roadway impacts. More...
Changes identified to improve land development code
HOLMES BEACH – City Commissioners last week approved a list of changes to the land development code proposed by City Planner Bill Brisson.
The changes are as follows:
• Include a provision for grass parking;
• Include bar, lounge and nightclub as an allowable use in the C-3 (commercial) district;
• Clarify language regarding resort housing in the mixed-use district;
• Add a provision that site plan review is required for development in the REC (recreation), POS (private recreation/open space) and PSP (public/semi public) districts for uses other than clubhouse. More...
Plenty of haunting for Island kids
HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Elementary School kids will have more than one opportunity to put on their costumes during Halloween.
Their first chance is on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the AME Fall Festival. This year has a change of location for the festival. The kids will assemble at the AMI Chamber parking lot at 5313 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach. They will march from that location to the park next to Holmes Beach City Hall at 5801 Marina Drive, where the festival will be held. During that time, judges will evaluate kids' costumes and the best boy and girl of each grade level will get an award.
The public is invited to this event where there will be fun and games for kids, refreshments and food for sale. Proceeds go to the school PTO. More...
Red tide has once again invaded local waters. While this episode hasn't been nearly as severe as the last persistent red tide of 2005-2006, it's still killed a number of fish and required anglers to be creative when searching out action. Hopefully, this red tide won't be lost on residents and businesses up and down Florida's west coast that haven't experienced this natural malady in nearly 10 years. Those who have been around long enough appreciate both the natural occurrence of the bloom and the human inputs that exacerbate it. In the recent past, red tide outbreaks have been minimal and were more of a temporary annoyance with minimal affect on locals and unlucky tourists.
For those who were lucky enough to miss it, the 2005-2006 episode made it clear that the bloom has the potential to negatively affect everyone – tourists, business owners, restaurateurs, real estate agents, developers and anglers. Having said that, savvy anglers have shown that red tides may even in a way help anglers find fish that have been concentrated in areas not affected by the tide. More...
Everybody loves real estate
The holiday season is just around the corner with Halloween next week, Thanksgiving in a month and then, of course, all of the Christmas and New Year's festivities. And I can guarantee you that one of the main topics of conversation at all of the holiday parties will be the real estate market.
Everybody loves to talk about real estate and many of us make perusing real estate search engines, if not a sport, then certainly an entertaining pastime. According to research published by Google in August, Americans spend an average of 55 minutes per online visit with real estate apps on their phones. Well, after all what else is there to do in the doctor's waiting room?
Google further reported that customers start early in the morning and continue throughout the day, considering "shopping for real estate fun." Whether it's on their smart phones or home or office computer, Americans are so addicted to home shopping online that 64 percent say they keep checking out houses and home values long after they have purchased a home. In addition, on average consumers start hunting for real estate three years before they actually buy. Also, only one in five of the people checking out homes on real estate apps and websites are actually in the current market to purchase a home. More...
Merchants have new president
BRADENTON BEACH – Island Time and Bridge Street Bistro co-owner and managing partner Bill Herlihy has agreed to serve as the new president of the Bridge Street Merchants Association.
In a statement provided by Jack Clarke, the association's new executive director, Herlihy said, "I am honored to accept the position as president of the Bridge Street Merchants Association. My predecessor Angela Rodocker did an outstanding job and I aspire to continue to accomplish all of the goals set forth by our board of directors. Bridge Street and Bradenton Beach have seen so many positive things happen recently to our community and businesses and I am confident that we will be able to keep moving in a favorable direction that will promote Bridge Street and our mission statement." More...
Reverse mortgages worth another lookInvestment Corner
I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn't the worst idea in the world.
I'm bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime
Space limitations don't' allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let's hit some of the highlights. More...
Generations play sports at The Center
After rains and winds of Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew, Anna Maria Island once again saw activity on the green fields at The Center. The Island area kids took to the pitch while the big kids in the co-ed flag football league hit the gridiron for some recreational fun.
Last Monday night, in the cool fall Florida air, the youngest soccer players met on the small field for pre-game training. With game faces on, the little field got divided into two for side-by-side soccer action in the three-to five-year-old league. In the official game, Team Beacon Design faced off against Team Waterfront restaurant. More...
Turtle laws still apply
It ain't over 'til it's over, Suzi Fox reminds Anna Maria Island beachfront residents and visitors.
Sea turtle nesting season does not end until Oct. 31, and in the meantime, turtle laws apply, including those prohibiting beachfront lighting and leaving furniture and other objects on the beach after dark, the director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring said.
People are saying they don't see any nests on the beach and are turning on their beachfront lights in violation of the law, she said. More...