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Vol. 14 No. 51 - October 15, 2014

headlines

City searches for control over rentals

ANNA MARIA – With a moratorium on permits for homes with more than three bedrooms or rooms that could be used as bedrooms in place, the city commission is weighing its options on controlling the construction of large, multi-room rental houses that could house a dozen or more people at one time.

The commission met on Tuesday, Oct. 7, and discussed getting a declaratory judgment on whether such a rental home could be classified as a hotel/motel, which is not allowed by city code.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said he got a letter from attorney David M. Levin, of Icard Merrill, PA, with a quote of $185 per hour to work on getting such an opinion.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said he objected to Levin’s reference of “vacation rentals,” saying that’s not the problem, but Webb said Levin understands the problem and is willing to take the case. The commission approved hiring him.

Who gets to sue?

Commissioner Dale Woodland questioned why the developers can sue the city because of legislation that would diminish the value of their property, but residents can’t sue developers for diminishing their rights to have a peaceful existence.

“I’ve heard some residents say, ‘What about my rights? I came here because of the quality of life and the things I like about this city are being eroded,’” Woodland said. “Do I have the right to sue the city or sue someone because it’s ruining my quality of life. I know there is no definitive answer, but it seems to me, why is it always one-sided?”

City Attorney Jim Dye said under the Bert Harris Act, the loss is related to financial impacts.

Webb said at the present time, when property owners or developers come to the city with an attorney, they get a favorable reaction.

“In the future, we’ll need to research their claims to make sure they are valid and not run for the hills because it’s Bert Harris,” Webb said, adding the commission needs to look at their current bedroom capacity standards to see if they are working.

City Planner Alan Garrett said on a 50-by-100 foot lot, owners can fill up to 40 percent of the lot with air-conditioned living area. On a 5,000 square foot lot, that would be up to 2,000 square feet. In addition, a property owner can have 10 percent of the lot for other uses such as a driveway or a porch.

On two story homes, the upper area cannot exceed 33-percent of the total living area ratio (LAR). In a 5,000 square foot lot, the second story could be up to 660 square feet, but the first floor would be limited to 1,340 square feet under air. That would increase the amount of covered area on the lot.

Under the old code, you could build 30 percent of the lot on the first livable floor and another 30 percent on the upper floor. He said under the LAR, they can build larger buildings.

Webb said he had hoped the LAR would encourage more and larger porches, but it’s not what’s happening. Woodland said he expected more porches on the second living level, but it is not happening.

Webb asked Garrett if he’s finding people maximizing their lot coverage at 50 percent.

“I find that happens most when they come back in to build a pool,” Garrett said. “That’s when you start seeing driveways being ripped out, sidewalks being ripped out to get the coverage. That’s when they will max it out.”

PARKING REQUIREMENTS

Garrett said on-site parking provisions require one space for each of the first three bedrooms and then an additional one for four and five bedrooms and another additional space for seven and eight.

“That’s changed what we’re seeing under the homes,” Garrett said. “They’re having to use more of the room around the house for parking.”

The requirements for parking are less strict for residential, and Webb asked if Garrett was seeing people come in for a permit saying it’s for their own residence, but then they change the use to a vacation rental after the house is built, creating a need for more parking spaces.

Webb said that’s the trigger for the commission to seek a declaratory judgment, meaning they would take an instance like that to court to try to get it declared a commercial business, which is not allowed in Anna Maria. He said he feels it is because they are making money.

“The code is being used the wrong way because they come in and say they’re going to live there and then they start renting it,” he said, asking how they could catch that.

“Neighbors could complain, that’s one way,” Webb said. “We could look at advertising, the tourist tax, although I’ve gotten some push back on privacy. The tax collector’s office will tell you that’s confidential information.”

Webb said that’s why they cannot catch permit seekers who want to build a vacation rental before they build because

Effort to remove mayor resumes

BRADENTON BEACH – The forfeiture of office proceedings against Mayor Bill Shearon will continue at the Thursday, Oct. 16, regular commission meeting, when commissioners conduct a final review of the city resolution that will establish the procedures for the forfeiture actions.

The amended resolution will then be presented for adoption at a following regular or special commission meeting.

Thursday’s meeting starts at noon, and the public will be given the opportunity to speak when the forfeiture resolution is discussed.

“This process can stop at any point in time. It does not have to be carried to fruition, but for all intent and purposes you are moving forward with this. Your next responsibility is to set out the framework for the process,” City Attorney Ricinda Perry explained, during the Oct. 6 special meeting.

Resolution 14-827 creates a method by which the commission will process, hear, determine and dispose of forfeiture of office proceedings.

Thursday’s meeting will provide commissioners an opportunity to incorporate additional language contained in an ordinance presented by Shearon, but rejected by the commission majority.

On Oct. 6, the commission voted 3-2 in favor of the forfeiture process being guided by the resolution written by Perry, rather than the ordinance submitted by Shearon, who has yet to identify the ordinance’s author.

City ordinances are typically written by the city attorney or members of the building and planning department.

Resolution vs. ordinance

When comparing a resolution to an ordinance, Perry said, “A resolution is used as a provision for the disposition of a particular item of the administrative business of a governing body. This forfeiture proceeding is administrative business of the commission, and it does derive out of the charter, which was adopted by ordinance, so I feel that a resolution is an appropriate mechanism.”

When reviewing Shearon’s proposed ordinance, Perry expressed concerns about stipulations that would hinder the commission’s ability to remove an elected official from office.

The rejected ordinance called for the city to bear the cost of the charged elected official’s legal fees, as well as any additional costs and fees incurred in the defense or appeal of the forfeiture. Perry said that could include items such as gasoline and meals.

The ordinance called for an independent attorney to determine if the commission had probable cause to initiate forfeiture proceedings, to establish the specific charges levied against Shearon and to provide the final ruling once the evidence is presented.

Perry said the city charter grants the commission the sole authority to make those determinations.

Perry did find some language in the ordinance she felt could be included in the resolution, and those potential amendments will be discussed Thursday.

She agrees that commission members should be notified of any forfeiture-related meetings at least 10 days in advance. She also favors additional resolution language that states the accused shall be entitled to all rights guaranteed by state law, including the right to request a stay of forfeiture if removed from office.

The right to proceed

Perry addressed those who questioned the commission’s right to initiate forfeiture proceedings.

“I know a lot of people don’t like this process, and I’ve heard disenfranchisement being thrown out. I empathize with your concern and your frustration, but you (the citizens) voted on this charter,” she said.

She pointed out that some who voiced opposition participated in the charter review process that produced the current charter.

“You did not object to this proceeding and you voted on this as being allowed. It is now their right (the commission’s), like it or not. It is enforceable by law and has never been challenged,” she declared.

The public finally speaks on the cell tower

ANNA MARIA – The specter of a cell tower looming over your property can be troubling, especially in hurricane territory.

A neighbor of city hall spoke at last Thursday’s meeting after seeing a similar tower in Bradenton Beach and said he’s concerned for the safety of his house.

“I implore the city commission to rethink its decision to build on city hall property,” said Jeffrey Tugden, who lives on Spring Avenue. “I don’t think it would be appropriate for that location.”

Tugden said it would be located within 55 feet of his property, and it does not look right for the neighborhood.

Nancy Manali, who has a house on Spring Avenue, agreed.

“I don’t think it should be located near people,” she said. “I think it should be located at those empty lots you have at Pine Avenue and North Bay.”

There was discussion on whether radio waves from the tower are dangerous and City Attorney Jim Dye said under federal law, the city could not require the tower to be moved from a residential area because of those fears.

Kevin Barile, of Florida Tower Partners, the group chosen to install and operate the tower, was asked how much moving the site of the tower would cost.

“We’d have to go to square one,” he said. “We spent between $60,000 and $70,000 on engineering.”

Barile said there is nothing in the fall zone. The tower is made to break away about two-thirds of the way up and swing down if winds get too high. The area where the top part would land is called the fall zone.

“We made a lot of commitment to Verizon and ATT,” he said. “You don’t just pick it up and move it.”

Tugden said he had looked at cell towers around the county, and none were located too close to residential property. Manali said she doesn’t see the need for another tower.

“My phone works fine here,” she said.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb continued the issue to the Oct. 23 meeting.

Meanwhile, Barile said his company is moving forward on the tower. He said it would be out this week to begin boring for the base of the tower. Webb said the city is still looking at the engineering for the tower and commissioners would address that at the Oct. 23 meeting.

Dye said if all goes as planned, he would have an ordinance granting the company a permit for first reading at that meeting as well.

Other action

The city commission failed to pass an ordinance allowing a $10,000 per year raise for the mayor. Commissioners Dale Woodland and Nancy Yetter were opposed and since Commissioner Carol Carter was absent with an excuse, Webb and Commissioner Doug Copeland’s approval was not enough to get it passed. The mayor makes $800 a year, which Webb said was the same amount the city paid in the 1920s, after the city was incorporated.

An ordinance was passed earlier this year amending the sign code so that owners of homes set farther back from the roadway than normal could put signs within 10 feet of the right of way, instead of within 10 feet of the house.

Yetter disagreed with the ordinance saying it would allow Realtors (or real estate agents) to move all their signs near the road. Copeland disagreed with Yetter, as did City Planner Alan Garrett. Woodland said when commissioners initially passed the code making the requirement within 10 feet of the house, it was the best thing they ever did because it cleaned up the sign clutter in the city.

The issue was continued until the Nov. 6 workshop.

The commission also delayed action on changing the pickup day for yard waste so waste from weekend work doesn’t sit by the roadside for days. Resident Howard Payne suggested the city have a collection area where landscape companies could take the waste and Waste Management could pick it up there.

Finally, commissioners spoke about reviving the Environmental Education and Enhancement Committee to help with decisions on landscaping on city property. They spoke of possibly dropping the requirement that members be residents and retain some experts who don’t live in the city.

Fire commissioners face challengers

Larry Tyler

Larry Tyler was appointed to the fire commission in 1996 to fill the term of a commissioner who had moved out of the district. He has served on the fire commission since then and has been chairman and secretary/treasurer and represented the district on the Manatee County Fire Commissioners’ Association, where he served as secretary and president.

He was human resource director for a large shoe company for 15 years and for the city of Beloit, Wisc., for 10 years. He and his wife move to Cortez in 1984 and opened Tyler’s Ice Cream, which they sold in 1996.

Tyler discussed several challenges the district faces in the next few years.

“There will be the transition of getting the new chief oriented to our management style,” he explained, “and the challenges of replacing our assistant fire chief and administrative assistant, who also are slated for retirement in 2015.”

Regarding fire and EMS services, Tyler pointed out, “Eighty percent of our calls are medical. I’m for a merger – one fire district in the county with EMS folded into it and run by a separate board. You don’t need all the chiefs and all the fire districts.”

While that merger could take time, he said in the meantime, “I’d like to see paramedics on fire engines. Then you wouldn’t run the ambulance all the time.”

Tyler said he has no problem with firefighters joining the union “if that’s what they want” because while he was with the city of Beliot, he was responsible for contract negotiations with seven unions.

Regarding Station 4 in Bradenton, he said he hopes it can be built next to the administration building instead of in its present location because it would be much more efficient.

“We’ve been very conservative and cost conscious and been able to maintain and keep our equipment in a rotation basis to best serve the public, and our personnel have been trained very effectively to serve the citizens of our community,” he concluded.

Al Robinson

Al Robinson, of Holmes Beach, has been buying and selling real estate on the Island since 1998. He served as a Holmes Beach city commissioner from 2008 to 2010.

Robinson has a degree in physical education from Fairmont State University in West Virginia, served two years in the Army and then studied industrial safety in graduate school.

He worked for Bethlehem Steel for 13 years and for himself in the coal mining business before moving to the Island in 1991.

“I attended fire commission meetings for a year and a half,” Robinson said, “and at the end of that time, they had gone from letting people speak to letting them speak for three minutes to only letting them speak on their topic.

“It was very frustrating, so I stopped attending. Nobody attends meetings because they want no public input. The public needs to know they’re welcome.”

He said one of the challenges the district faces in the coming years is its “runaway expenditures. They spent $75,00 on a jungle fire truck, and it’s never been used.

“They bought a ladder truck for $150,000 and there’s only two buildings in the district over two stories. The administration building is a $2 million monument.”

He said he was “infuriated” that there was no competitive bidding for the work done on the fire stations in the past five years and said, “I want to stop the spending.”

He pointed to the city of Holmes Beach and said, “They have about the same number of employees as the fire district, yet the mayor of Holmes Beach runs the city for $6,000 a year with all these varied departments.

“We have two guys making a quarter of a million dollars, and they only deal with fire. It’s ludicrous.”

George Harris

George Harris has been a paramedic/firefighter for the city of St. Pete since 1996.

Harris, who was born here, grew up in Miami when his parents moved there, but returned here in 1983. He volunteered for the Oneco/Tallevast Fire District, was with the Southern Manatee Fire District and then served as a paramedic for Manatee County EMS for eight years.

He also has been fire chief for the Whitfield Fire District and served as a fire commissioner for Southern Manatee for two years. When his wife Lari Ann, a Manatee County commissioner, passed away in 2000, he was appointed to her seat by Gov. Bush and served almost four years.

“Having been a fire chief and commissioner, I understand the pressure the administration is under to be good stewards of the money they receive and also be responsible for the firefighters that are in the front lines providing customer service,” Harris said.

“I am a property owner and understand making sure the taxes you pay are buying good quality service. West Manatee is a great fire department and has enjoyed a stellar reputation in the county.

“Chief Price and his board have worked hard on being on the cutting edge of service delivery and technology while providing a valuable service to the community.”

Regarding the unionization of the district’s firefighters, Harris said he is a card carrying union member and understands “the issues and challenges” of unionization and “how well union and management can work together.

“In talking to the firefighters, they are satisfied with the benefits and pay. The challenge that lays before them and the commission is nailing it all down and putting it in a contract so everyone can feel their interests are represented.”

Harris said he would “like to find ways to fund an increased level of emergency response to the Island and west Bradenton without impacting the existing budget or increasing taxes by exploring other revenue options and partnerships with the county.”

Scott Ricci

Scott Ricci has served on the fire commission for three years, the past year as chair.

He built cable TV systems in New Hampshire before moving to the Island 20 years ago, and in New Hampshire, he served a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and a fire commissioner for five years.

After moving to Holmes Beach, Ricci and his father built Woodlands Golf Course in Bradenton and operated it until they sold it in 2005. He now has a home check business on the Island.

He said with a new chief taking over in 2015, as well as the deputy chief and administrative assistant retiring, “The board will have to be more involved in policy for day to day operations, Fortunately, there are a lot of educated, qualified officers in the department.”

Regarding 911 technology, he said, “The whole software upgrade that Manatee and Sarasota counties are discussing can have huge pluses. Right now, the only way to talk to 911 is by phone, but this will accept text and e-mails.

“It has the potential for speeding up response times and getting paramedics and firefighters on scene quicker and that’s a lot of what I’ve been about.”

He said replacing Station 4 is an on-going process and when it was first discussed, he questioned whether it should be moved further west and north.

“It generated a lot of discussion and research,” he said, “and we have a better understanding of where our needs are. The church property next to the administration building is a better location than where it is now.”

Beach safety is another area for improvement, and he said the district is seeking cooperation with the county in notifying beachgoers of conditions at the beach, and he would like to form a coalition for beach safety.

Ricci said his strongest point is that he asks a lot of questions and added, “I feel like I’ve made a difference and I can continue to do so.”

Vosburgh hopes to retain seat

Jan Vosburgh has been a full-time resident of the city for 14 years, and a city property owner for 28.

While living in Utah, she owned and managed a furniture and appliance retail business for nearly three decades. She also worked in finance, marketing, sales and advertising . Now retired, she operates rental units in Bradenton Beach and at Perico Bay Club.

She has served on the Bradenton Beach commission for four and half years. Prior to that, she served on the Charter Review Committee and the Board of Adjustment.

Why are you running for a third term?

“I feel morally obligated, and I feel it is my patriotic duty to do everything possible to serve the citizens, business owners and visitors of Bradenton Beach. I love this city, and I feel it is imperative to have someone on the commission who has experience with past decisions and knowledge of the operations of the city.”

What has the commission accomplished during your current term in office?

“We approved the cell tower and the pier reconstruction. I helped get a speed control sign installed near Coquina Beach, and I addressed many requests from citizens and business owners. I’m working on a crosswalk near Runaway Bay and helping with the efforts to get the Intracoastal Waterway dredged.”

What do you hope to accomplish in your next term, if elected?

“My main priority is to keep costs down, balance the budget and remain diligent as a steward of taxpayers’ money.

“I want to put an end to the lawsuit filed by the mayor, Tjet Martin and Jo Ann Meilner. This has gone on too long and is costing the city so much in attorney fees. It’s ridiculous. Ed Chiles owns that property and ought to be able use it according to the agreement the commission approved in 2012. He’s spent thousands of dollars improving his property, and people have parked there for a long time.

“I would also like to serve as commission liaison for the charter review.”

What is your position on the forfeiture of office proceedings initiated against the mayor?

“The city is going in the wrong direction under Mayor Shearon, and there are leadership issues that need to be resolved. The mayor does not have the right temperament or management skills to run the city. He micromanages staff, and it’s very stressful. Our employees are unhappy, and the morale of the city is the worst I’ve ever seen. I’d like to see more harmony and less acrimony at city hall.”

Do you your feel your opponent’s relationship with the mayor, as girlfriend, business partner and personal caregiver, presents a conflict of interest, especially in regard to Sunshine Law adherence?

“Of course I do. I can’t see how two people could live together and not discuss city issues. I also cannot understand why it’s not prohibited by law."

How do you feel about Ms. Martin’s frequent public records requests?

“It bothers me that staff can’t do their work because they’re bogged down with records requests from my opponent."

How would you assess the city’s financial state?

“I think it’s good. It’s too bad we’re raising taxes, even though the millage rate remained the same, but I opposed the business tax and stormwater fee increases. Our revenues are up and will continue to increase, and I’m confident we’ll be in better shape next year."

How do would you describe your relationship with the business community?

“Very good. Because of my business background, I have a lot of empathy for what they go through and how hard they work to be successful, and they produce a lot of tax revenues that benefit the citizens of Bradenton Beach.

Do you feel the noise ordinance is properly enforced?

“Yes.”

Do you have any final thoughts on your campaign?

“The stakes are high. This election will help determine the direction of the city in the coming years. I hope everyone votes, and it’s important to remind people that all city voters get to participate in this election. I want them to know that I’m looking after their best interests and the best interests of this beautiful city.”

Martin looks to oust incumbent

Tjet Martin has lived in the city for 11 years. She previously lived in Illinois and spent many years as a factory worker. An injury suffered in a car accident required a more sedentary profession, which led her to accounts payable, accounts receivable and work as an administrative assistant.

She currently manages and maintains the Linger Longer resort, and serves as personal caregiver to Mayor Bill Shearon, who is legally blind.

Martin serves as the co-chair of the Scenic Waves Committee and has a long history of political involvement.

Why are you running for the Ward 4 seat?

I don’t think elected officials should run unopposed. I think they should be challenged, and I’m not saying you have to spend a ton of money. I’m totally conservative; I will put up two banners on the Linger Longer sign. I will not be putting signs up and making the city blighted.

Was your decision based on a desire to provide Mayor Shearon and Commissioner Janie Robertson with the third vote they often lack?

No; absolutely not. What made me want to run was interaction outside of meetings that I witnessed between two current commissioners. That’s why I have made the public records requests that I am going to continue to pursue diligently. I think what’s being done to the mayor has been planned for quite a while, according to records I’ve received.

What are some of the most important issues facing the city?

“We’re losing residents. We need to get our spending under control, and we need more efficiency. I see technology as a stumbling block, and we’ve got to get the city into the 21st century.”

What qualifications would you bring to the commission?

“I have business experience. I was blown away when I found out some commissioners didn’t realize they were $600,000 over budget for the past two years. The city needs tighter oversight, and I can bring that.”

You live with the mayor. How do you avoid Sunshine Law violations, if elected?

“We have friends on the commission and friends on committees. When they walk through the door, they know better than to discuss city business. It’s a house rule.”

Your campaign paperwork lists your primary source of income as personal caregiver for William Shearon. Does this present a conflict of interest?

“No. We do not have a boss-employee relationship.”

Can you envision voting in opposition to the mayor?

“Absolutely, there’s many issues we disagree on. I tend to have stronger opinions. I want things done right, and I’m very single-minded in what I think is right and wrong.”

What are your thoughts on the forfeiture of office efforts?

“If they want him out of office, do a recall. The citizens put him there, and it’s the citizens that should take him out.”

Explain your position on the lawsuit you and others filed against the city, regarding the BeachHouse parking lot?

“It’s strictly about preservation (the land use designation). I wish we could get a judge and get this done. I never envisioned it would take two years.”

What about the legal fees?

“Considering there’s been very little done on it, I don’t understand why the bill is so high, compared to ours. I would be scrutinizing those legal bills.”

If elected, will you remove yourself as a plaintiff?

“I would have to ask my attorney. If I have to, I will. If I don’t, then no."

It has been suggested that your presence at city hall contributes to low employee morale?

“I think part of that is because I agreed with Tammy Johnson that her office was breached. When she was clerk pro tem, she was in charge of public records, and Florida statutes say you cannot view or photograph public records without oversight. I believe a law was broken, and I believe there was a law broken in regard to the truthfulness of the employee interviews given to Detective Diaz.”

What are your thoughts on the noise ordinance?

“I was heavily involved in the noise ordinance. I wanted a balance and I’m glad it’s done.

I think it was achieved on paper; I don’t think it’s been achieved on enforcement.”

Board recommends denial of hotel request

SUBMITTED

This rendering represents the proposed two-unit hotel
on Ninth Street North.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Planning and Zoning Board is recommending the denial of Wendy and George Kokolis’ request for a special exception that would allow for the construction of a two-unit hotel at 113 Ninth St. N.

City commissioners can accept or reject the board recommendation when they render their final decision at a future meeting.

Last week, planning board members Dan DeBaun and Fawzy Makar supported John Metz’s motion to recommend denial of the special use exception required to operate a hotel in the C-1 commercial zone district.

John Burns’ earlier motion to recommend approval with stipulations died for lack of a second.

Metz questioned whether the board could even rule on the special exception request due to a pending circuit court appeal of a setback variance granted by the city’s special master in June.

City Planner Alan Garrett told the board to proceed because the setback variance remains valid until a court rules otherwise, and if the commission approves the Kokolis’ request, building permits will not be issued until the appeal is resolved.

Garrett also told the board the city attorney was unable to provide a legal opinion on a lot split applied to the Kokolis property approximately 40 years ago.

Metz said the hotel would negatively impact surrounding property values. DeBaun agreed, but Makar said he had no way to determine the potential impact.

Quoting the special master’s findings, Burns said, “The reduction of front yard setback will not diminish property value or the character of the surrounding area.”

He then said he did not think the hotel would impact property values.

“Nobody has presented evidence to this board other than hearsay,” Burns said, noting that testimony from property owners was not accompanied by the professional opinion of a property appraiser or real estate agent.

When Metz and DeBaun expressed concerns about increased traffic on Ninth Street, Burns referred to a traffic study that indicated a two-unit hotel would generate less traffic than the duplexes and triplexes allowed in the district.

Recusal requested

Attorney Patricia Petruff asked Metz to recuse himself from the decision because he and her client, Wendy Kokolis, engaged in a dispute earlier in the day that resulted in a response from the Bradenton Beach Police Department.

Metz said he would not recuse himself because he had expressed similar opinions at previous meetings.

According to the police report, Metz called about activity taking place at the 308 Gulf Drive property recently purchased by the Kokolis family. Metz lives next door, and was concerned work was taking place despite the issuance of a stop work order.

The responding officers determined the visitors to be an engineer and a planner trying to ascertain repairs required for the existing structure, and they were not violating the order.

When Kokolis arrived, Metz told officers she was on his property He said he had a survey to prove it. He also claimed access to his property had been blocked.

According to the report, Kokolis told police Metz was bothering her, and an officer asked Metz to stay off the Kokolis’ property to avoid confrontation.

After the Oct. 8 meeting, Kokolis said she still held out hope the hotel would get built.

With regard to Metz, she said he had expressed interest in purchasing the property at 308 Gulf Drive.

A photograph submitted to the city indicates Metz has tentative plans to build a large retail and residential development on his Gulf Drive property in 2015. The Kokolis property would have provided additional ingress and egress for the planned unit development.

Cast-N-Cage falls behind on rent

joe hendricks | sun

Located at the foot of the Historic Bridge Street Pier,
the Cast-N-Cage restaurant has presented challenges
for the business owners and the city.

BRADENTON BEACH – The proprietors of the pier-based Cast-N-Cage restaurant are struggling to keep their business afloat and are now facing potential punitive action from their landlord, the city of Bradenton Beach.

As of Monday afternoon, business owners Roland Pena and Tammy Kemper-Pena had not made the October rent payment that was due Oct. 1

On Thursday, Oct. 9, Police Chief Sam Speciale presented business owner Roland Pena with a notice of default for non-payment and notice of termination of lease and concessionaire agreement.

The matter is scheduled for discussion at the Wednesday, Oct. 15, Pier Team meeting and the Thursday, Oct. 16, city commission meeting.

Dated Wednesday, Oct. 8, the notice of default informed Pena and his wife and business partner, Tammy Kemper-Pena, that they have 10 days to pay all fees in full.

“Failure to pay all fees shall result in the undersigned (the city) demanding possession of the premises within 15 days of the date set forth above,” the default notice stated.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry acknowledged Friday that a typographical error pertaining to the payment due date may require the issuance of a corrected default notice, which in turn would push back the enforcement timetable.

On Monday, Oct. 6, the Penas gave the city a $500 check as partial payment against the $5,500 October rent payment due. The city returned the check uncashed because cashing it would have signified acceptance of a partial payment.

The Penas received a similar default notice in April, but quickly remedied a situation created by mistakenly issuing a rent check from the wrong checking account.

A visit to the Cast-N-Cage Friday night found Pena working in the kitchen with five of the six outdoor patio tables filled with guests. He said he hopes to pay the rent before this week's meeting.

In September, the commission voted 3-2 in favor of granting the Penas a $1,135 per month temporary rent abatement to help offset the impact the pier reconstruction is having on the restaurant affiliated Rusty Anchor bait shop and Pelican Perch concession space.

The previous pier tenants, Rotten Ralph’s, also fell tens of thousands of dollars in arrears before vacating the site. The Cast-N-Cage lease, entered into in November 2013, contains provisions designed to protect the city from similar debt accrual.


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