Vol. 17 No. 23 - March 22, 2017
Water taxi service starting soon
BRADENTON BEACH – Captain Jeff Stephens is launching a new water taxi service, and last week he took a dozen passengers out for a shakedown cruise.
On Friday afternoon, invited guests gathered on the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach while waiting to board the Island Hopper, a 27-foot, 20-passenger Carolina skiff that will provide the water taxi service known as the Gulf Islands Water Shuttle.
Stephens plans to begin regular service on Sunday, March 26, and the skiff will provide service four times daily to and from the north end of Longboat Key, with stops at the Mar Vista restaurant and the Whitney Beach Plaza. More...
Trail funding request hits a snag
BRADENTON BEACH – City commissioners support a funding request for the installation of exercise equipment along the paved trail at Coquina Beach, but they disagree on how the request should be presented to county officials.
The project was first proposed by Scenic WAVES chair Tjet Martin in January. With the support of her committee, Martin then contacted county officials and the other Island mayors to gauge their interest in funding the project using the county's beach concession fund.
In February, Vice Mayor John Chappie suggested the funding request be formally submitted to the county in the form of a commission-approved resolution that would also be signed by the Anna Maria and Holmes Beach mayors. Chappie said the funding request should come directly from the three Island cities and not from an appointed committee member. The commission then directed City Attorney Ricinda Perry to draft the resolution. More...
HB 425 moving forward
TALLAHASSEE – The vacation rental bill (HB 425) filed by State Rep. Mike La Rosa (R-St. Cloud) has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
On Tuesday, March 14, the Agriculture and Property Rights Subcommittee ruled the bill favorable by a 9-6 margin. The house bill's next stop will be the Careers and Competition Subcommittee. As of Friday, that session had not been scheduled.
Filed as a companion to Sen. Greg Steube's Senate Bill 188, La Rosa's bill is a parallel attempt to enact state legislation that prevents local governments from adopting new vacation rental regulations or enforcing regulations adopted after June 1, 2011. More...
Elected officials and residents stand united
ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy traveled to Tallahassee on Sunday as part of the city of Anna Maria's continued efforts to defeat Senate Bill 188 and House Bill 425.
Lobbyist Chip Case arranged for Murphy to meet with some state senators on Monday who are members of the Regulated Industries Committee that was scheduled to discuss, debate and rule favorably or unfavorably on the vacation rental bill filed by State Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota).
Murphy also hoped to meet with some of the state representatives that serve on the Careers and Competition Subcommittee that will soon review and rule on HB 425, the companion bill filed by Rep. Mike La Rosa (R-St. Cloud). More...
Owner asks city to classify property
HOLMES BEACH — The owner of a unique Holmes Beach property is seeking the city's help to classify it.
While attempting to sell the property at 105 White Avenue, the owner, Norfolk Southern Railroad, ran into a snag.
The property, commonly known as the Lay-By, sits on 1.96 acres of beachfront property with 14 units in the R-1 zoning district, which only allows single family structures. The property was erected in 1963 and received a special exception from the sitting commission at the time because it was only used as a private retreat for employees of the railroad.
With the property listed for sale at $10.9 million and the sunset for grandfathered weekly rentals in the R-1 district drawing near, the company employed local attorney Scott Rudacille to ask city commissioners March 14 exactly what could be done with the property going forward. More...
Traffic study costs mount
BRADENTON BEACH — A contract hasn't been signed yet, but the cost of a proposed traffic study is mounting.
During the March 13 Island Transportation Planning Organization meeting, held at Bradenton Beach City Hall, Florida Department of Transportation representative Jesten Abraham said the cost of the proposed barrier island traffic study is growing.
While early cost estimates for the study came in at about $670,000, as the DOT begins contract negotiations with Stantec, the contractor selected during a bid process for the job, the cost is now estimated somewhere near $945,000 plus additional fees for filler contractors used to gather data while negotiations are coming to a close.
"It was controversial when it was $650,000," Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said. "This is taxpayer money. It's not free. This is a 50 percent increase. That's almost unconscionable." More...
Legislative priorities established
BRADENTON BEACH – Based on suggestions presented by Vice Mayor John Chappie, the city commission has provided its newly hired lobbying firm with a list of proposed state legislation that it collectively wishes to oppose or support.
At the top of the list is commission opposition to a pair of vacation rental bills, Senate Bill 188 and House Bill 425, that would eliminate the city's ability to regulate vacation rentals. The commission has also asked its lobbying firm to express support for HB 6003, a bill that would allow local governments to prohibit vacation rentals – although City Attorney Ricinda Perry acknowledged during last week's commission meeting that it is highly unlikely that the current state legislature would support that bill. More...
Big changes take effect at Ugly Grouper
The owners of The Ugly Grouper are following through on a plan to bring major changes to the restaurant.
One of those major changes recently implemented is a full bar. The Ugly Grouper recently obtained a liquor license, allowing staff to sell hard liquor in addition to the previously licensed beer and wine sales.
Due to state regulations, only limited numbers of liquor licenses are released by the Florida Division of Alcohol, Beverages and Tobacco, making it difficult to obtain one except through resale from another business owner. More...
The story behind the oyster stew
Cooking and love of food in my family goes way back. I think the first time I remember being in an institutional kitchen was in the Polk County Stockade in the '60s. I know me being in a cell doesn't surprise anyone that knows me, but in the '60s?? I was born in '61, so did I start my criminal record before my 10th birthday?
No, not exactly, I am named after my grandfather, John Washington Senn, and everyone in Bartow called him Capt. Jake, as he was the warden of stockade. Granddaddy died when I was 7, but before that, I spent many a day in the stockade as Little Jake, the pride of my grandfather. I had the run of the place because none of the prisoners wanted the wrath of Capt. Jake if anything happened to Little Jake. So I could go anywhere, do anything. More...
Now or Neverglades campaign to 'save' the Everglades
The Everglades earned the nickname River of Grass because of the shallow water that courses through the sawgrass marshes and hammocks from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee and south to Florida Bay. At one time the rich soil was almost completely covered by water. That all changed in the early 20th century when settlers and farmers lured by the promise of inexpensive land moved south to Florida. When they found the land covered by water they began to construct canals and dikes to drain the land for agriculture.
In 1905, Gov. Napoleon Broward began an intensive effort to make the land suitable for agriculture and development by draining large areas of the Glades. This created vast tracks of farmland and stimulated the growth of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. As a result, flood control was needed to protect these interests. In 1948, Congress authorized the largest water management system in the world to protect agriculture interests and create a source of drinking water to supply the rapidly growing Gold Coast. It included an extensive system of levees, canals and dams that channeled nearly two billion gallons of water to the coasts. More...
Selling is not free
Someone recently shared an experience they had while traveling in India. Their tour group came upon a toll booth, not unlike ones in this country, only this toll booth accommodated more than just vehicles, it accommodated elephants. What does this have to do with selling your home? Only that it emphasizes that all creatures have to pay the toll, the buyer the seller and the elephants.
If you're one of the fortunate ones and you're sitting on top of a mountain of equity, don't think that you'll end up with all of it when your property closes. Just like buyers, sellers are subject to fees and expenses they frequently don't think about when they're on top of that mountain.
The largest expense for sellers who have listed and sold their property with the help of a realtor is, of course, the commission. Realtor commissions are negotiable and generally run between 5 and 6 percent in our area. When you consider that properties on Anna Maria Island are almost at an all-time high this can be a big chunk; 6 percent of even a $500,000 sale is $30,000. More...
Irene's celebrates 60 years
If you believe that who we are is predetermined through the genes passed from generation to generation, then you'll appreciate the story of Irene's Resort Wear in Holmes Beach. Sixty years ago, when Anna Maria was still a baby, Irene Cassady closed her West Virginia shop and opened Irene's Resort Wear in Holmes Beach. Like her mother, Mattie, she too had retail in her blood and treated her new shop like a baby growing it right along with the island she loved.
After Irene's death, her nephew and his wife Bob and Nina Boyers took over the business. They eventually passed it on in 1990 to their daughter, Nanette Almeter who has taken great aunt Irene's vision and service principles to new heights. 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...
Local wrestlers soar to state
Always a standout athlete at the Island community center, Jake Ross, now 17 years old and a junior at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School, shifted gears a year ago from football to wrestling for the Falcons. What was once a new sport to try has become a yet another athletic achievement for Ross.
Ross, who grew up on the Island and attended Anna Maria Elementary School, is joined on the Saint Stephen's wrestling team by Jake Manning, a sophomore, and Max Manning, a junior. The Manning brothers, who moved to the area in 2014 from Pittsburgh, Pa., has the support of their father Patrick Manning, statistician for the team. P. Manning has protected and served the city of Anna Maria for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office since coming to Florida.
The Manning boys and Ross worked their way from last year's building season to success at the state championships in Kissimmee on March 3 and 4. More...