Fair weather greets runners
ANNA MARIA – When you plan outdoor events in January, like the Anna Maria Elementary School's Dolphin Dash, you never know what Mother Nature will have in store, even in Florida. Over the years, runners have had to deal with sweltering temperatures as well as unseasonably cold weather laced with rain.
Fortunately, the race run last Saturday at the school was blessed with perfect weather and the turnout was good.
The first run was a 5K race for adults and advanced kids. Racers of all ages, shapes and sizes lined up wearing their numbered tags on top of T-shirts. Some clearly were there to achieve their personal bests, setting their Fitbits and stop watches to monitor and chronicle their efforts. More...
Dueling rental bills filed
ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Competing vacation rental bills have been filed by two state legislators and the passage of either bill would significantly impact the local regulation of vacation rentals.
Filed Jan. 10 by state Sen. Greg Steube, a Republican from Sarasota, SB 188 would prevent local governments from adopting new vacation rental regulations or enforcing local rental regulations adopted after June 2011.
Filed Jan. 9 by state Rep. David Richardson, a Democrat from Miami Beach, HB 6003 would give local governments almost unlimited authority to regulate or prohibit vacation rentals.
The fates of the competing bills will be determined by the Republican-controlled state legislature during the 2017 legislative session that begins March 7 and ends May 5. More...
Steube explains vacation rental bill
SARASOTA – State Sen. Greg Steube, of Sarasota, has filed a new bill that if adopted would prevent local governments from enacting new vacation rental regulations or enforcing existing rental regulations adopted before June 2011.
Elected to the state senate in November, Steube represents Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County. From 2010 to 2016, the former Bradenton native served as a state representative and represented part of Manatee County, but not the barrier islands.
When contacted Friday afternoon, Steube explained his position on SB 188.
"I believe in people's private property rights, and I don't think vacation rentals should be discriminated against. I don't think you should pass a law like they've done in Anna Maria that's generated lawsuits and a whole host of Bert Harris claims – and they settle each Bert Harris claim by grandfathering the property in, so you're treating one house next to another house different just because of the manner in which the individual decides to use the property. I believe the private property rights trump the local governments and Anna Maria Island is a perfect example of all that," Steube said. More...
Vacation rental regulations discussed
BRADENTON BEACH – The City Commission is working on new vacation rental regulations.
During the Wednesday, July 10, workshop, commissioners engaged in their first discussions on the vacation rental regulations recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z).
The commission reached preliminary consensus in support of several P&Z recommendations and went a step farther in directing City Attorney Ricinda Perry to research a possible legal interpretation of the city's comprehensive plan as it pertains to the property uses allowed residential zones.
Similar to the declaratory judgement previously discussed, but never pursued by Anna Maria commissioners in 2015, Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor John Chappie believes the city's comp plan and land development code might prohibit rentals in two residential zones. More...
Pier funding clarified
ANNA MARIA –Manatee County officials have clarified their position on sharing the cost of the anticipated $2 million rehabilitation of the city pier.
At the request of Commissioners Dale Woodland, Nancy Yetter and Carol Carter, the city recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from firms interested in serving as the city's pier rehabilitation contractor.
Prior to RFP issuance, Mayor Dan Murphy repeatedly told the commission that his preliminary discussions with County Administrator Ed Hunzeker and Parks and Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker indicated the city had to use the county's preferred design firm in order to be considered for up to $1 million in matching county funds. More...
Steube bill would slash cities' biz tax receipts
ANNA MARIA ISLAND – City officials in Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key are opposed to a new bill filed by state Sen. Greg Steube that would cap local business tax receipt license fees at $25.
If adopted by the state legislature during the legislative session that begins in March, SB 330 would also prohibit cities and counties that do not currently have business tax receipt programs from initiating them.
The proposed bill was discussed at last week's ManaSota League of Cities meeting.
When providing the members with a copy of the bill, Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Granger said "That's going to result in a net loss to us of about $95,000 in our fiscal year budget." More...
Holmes Beach Mayor proposes special assessment study
Mayor Bob Johnson is concerned about a multi-million dollar deficit in funding to the city over the next 15 years.
Johnson began the discussion with commissioners during the Jan. 10 work session.
He said he estimates total capital improvement and operating costs for the city of $39,180,459 over the next 15 years. Of that amount, Johnson calculated only $14,606,325 would come from Manatee County funds, leaving a $24,574,134 deficit.
"I don't have a solution here, but there are some options we need to talk about," he said. More...
Closing time for Happy Ours
An iconic, funky local landmark was demolished last week when the Old Florida-style Happy Ours vacation rental units in Bradenton Beach were torn down. After purchasing the property in the mid-2000s, owners Richard and Shelley Wheeler created an Island-themed resort that featured vividly painted murals and song lyrics inside and outside of the multi-unit wooden structure. The Wheelers have not yet announced what they plan to do with their now-vacant waterfront lot along Gulf Drive.
When asked about the time he spent inside Happy Ours, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said, "That's one of those eclectic structures that will never be reproduced in this city The insides of that place were unbelievable with the murals and all the paintings. I talked to the owners, and they said it was just time for it to go. It's a shame that it's gone, but I'm sure that what they put in its place will be beautiful," Speciale said. More...
Artisan, artisanal: What's in a name?
If you scramble the letters in the word artisan you can spell rants.
The current use of the world artisan by the corporate food factories is making me rant.
Twenty-five years ago, I remember having to look up artisan for the correct spelling.
We were beginning to serve America's own artisanal cheeses from Maytag and Shelburne Farms.
At the time America was serving the best lamb and beef and seafood in the world.
We not only had the best food product, we had more ice for better transport, and we had better refrigeration to keep it the best. More...
Fishing the top
When I got a call from Steve Traves, of AMI Outfitters, asking if I would mind having an extra angler join us on our first fishing trip of the New Year, I immediately said OK. The trip was all the better because we would be introducing a novice angler to some of the spectacular fishing we have in local waters. This wasn't the first time Parker Novi, from Anna Maria, had been fishing, but it was the first time the 17 year old had fished from a boat. As it turned out, he was a natural, quickly picking up the nuances needed to work the lures we fished.
We began the day near Tidy Island, drifting the flats on a deep grass edge. Fishing with a DOA Shrimp and jigs, we immediately started catching trout. After a couple of drifts, I decided to switch to a top water plug to do a little prospecting. More...
What's so foreign about foreign?
America's the land of milk and honey and don't we know it? So do real estate byers from around the world to the tune of 209,000 properties sold to foreign buyers between April 2014 and March 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors. But how complicated do transactions with either foreign buyers or sellers get? They're a challenge, but very doable.
Since we live in paradise, so does every second home or investment buyer want to, including foreign nationals. These transactions can be more complex in both financing and in cultural differences. The biggest issue is planning for money transfers and/or processing of foreign borrower mortgages. Wire transfers and digital signatures have made this process a lot easier, however, sales agreements still need to allow for complications, especially when the buyer is probably back home in a different time zone.
Also, negotiating a sale price can be a totally new experience. Some cultures will negotiate every little detail until you're about to cry; others with real estate practices that typically don't negotiate will just accept the asking price. No matter who your buyer is, the best advice is to get good legal and real estate professionals involved who are familiar with foreign transactions. More...
AMOB: 20 years of great food
Anna Maria Oyster Bar's motto, "We're more than just oysters," may possibly be the biggest understatement in culinary history, and for 20 years loyal customers have been discovering just what an understatement it is. If you want seafood – no problem, pasta – no problem, sandwiches – no problem, burgers – no problem and, yes, oysters almost any way you can think of – no problem.
In 1996, John Horne opened the first Anna Maria Oyster Bar at the end of the city pier at the north end of Anna Maria. A year later, he opened the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside on 14th Street in Bradenton, then in 2002, another Oyster Bar appeared on Cortez Road in Bradenton, followed by 51st Street in Ellenton in 2003, and although the Anna Maria Oyster Bar's original pier location has been closed for years, last year Horne managed to get back to his roots and opened another pier location at 200 Bridge Street on the Bradenton Beach Pier. 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...
Air & Energy puts the chill on Duncan Real Estate
The role of the volunteer coach at the Island's community center is an important one and it changes over time. As the children change, so do the responsibilities and actions of the coaches in each age division.
When they are at their youngest, in the five- to seven-year-old age group, the coach has to develop the players both in the sport itself and as a sportsman and athlete. This is the critical time where the wrong coach can ruin the game forever in the players' minds or with the right coach the players thrive and move on into future seasons with a love of the game.
As they get older, the coaches of the eight- to 10-year-old league hones previously taught skills and teaches new ones. While on the field during the games, the coaches control the huddle and call plays. Past the technical side of the game, the coach builds character and continuous reinforcement of the importance of sportsmanship on and off the field. More...