The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 7 - November 30, 2011


Short-term rental meeting to be set

HOLMES BEACH – Holmes Beach residents concerned about short-term rental problems may have the chance to propose solutions at a special work session next month.

After lengthy discussion last week, the Holmes Beach Commission assented to new Commissioner Jean Peelen's request to hold a meeting on the issue.

Residents, rental agents and builders could attend the meeting and propose solutions to parking, trash and noise problems created by short-term rentals in the city, said Peelen, who took office last week for her first term on the commission. Peelen said she heard widespread concern about short-term rentals from voters during her campaign.

Citizens can attend commission meetings and express opinions during the public comment portion of the meetings, Vice Chair Sandra Haas-Martens said. Public comment is heard after all items on the commission agenda are concluded, which sometimes takes more than two hours.

Senior citizens are unable to sit through lengthy commission meetings to wait for the public comment section, Peelen said, requesting a separate hearing. Several of the two dozen people in the audience had already left by the time Peelen made her request.

The commission decided to hold the hearing during a work session, which normally is scheduled after a commission meeting, but can be held before the commission meeting. The tentative date is Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Growing pains

Short-term rentals are a relatively new trend in the city, which has lost small, older homes to developers who build large duplexes with several bedrooms, addressing the need for housing created by the Island's growing international identity as a beach wedding destination and tourist resort.

Housing a dozen or more people at a time, short-term rentals plague residents with late night parties, yards overflowing with cars and overflowing trash cans left out for days, several residents have told the commission in recent weeks.

"I moved here because I thought it was paradise," resident and rental property owner Renee Ferguson said on Tuesday night. "We've got to stop this Island from looking like a war zone."

Rental agents told commissioners last month that clients sometimes intentionally violate occupancy laws without the agent's knowledge, and that some agents do not notify renters of local and state ordinances.

The "total neglect" of previous commissioners to enforce noise, parking and trash ordinances was "a dereliction of duty," resident and realtor Ron Travis said, adding that the city code allows what he calls "boarding houses" to rent for as little as one day in some areas.

"We're asking you to enforce the current code and stop short-term rental party houses," he said, suggesting revoking rental permits and instituting a moratorium.

The city's code enforcement officer is inspecting rentals and issuing citations, Haas-Martens said.

One recent case involved an owner advertising for sports teams to rent a single-family residence for three to six days in a zoning area requiring seven-day minimum stays, said Code Enforcement Officer Dave Forbes, adding that he required the owner to change the advertisement, but did not issue a citation.

Possible solutions

Peelen suggested considering a six-month moratorium on issuing business licenses to short-term rental property owners.

A moratorium on business licenses would be problematic because they are issued for a year at a time, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said.

However, a construction moratorium is possible, as long as it is on all duplex structures, not just those with several bedrooms, City Attorney Patricia Petruff said, adding that she will research how other cities are handling similar problems.

The city also can suspend rental licenses and has the option of taking violators identified by the code enforcement officer to court, Bohnenberger said, adding that the commission is considering a new ordinance to regulate the construction of new vacation rentals by requiring one parking space for each bedroom.

The city has limited ability to change its code because of a state law passed earlier this year prohibiting municipalities from passing short-term rental regulations if they did not already have them in place, Petruff said.

Holmes Beach is the only one of the Island's three cities with an ordinance designed to discourage "party houses" by restricting minimum rental stays from seven to 30 days in some, but not all, zoning districts. Under the state law, it's too late for the other two cities to follow suit.

Citizens should ask state legislators to repeal the law, Bohnenberger and Petruff both suggested.

In other business:

• The commission passed the first reading of an ordinance listing the streets in the city where golf carts are prohibited – State Road 64, State Road 789, Gulf Drive, Palm Drive and Marina Drive from Gulf Drive to Palm Drive; establishing standards for golf cart use, including the requirement that drivers must have a valid driver license; and indicating that golf carts may only cross state roads at intersections which are signalized and which have been approved the Florida Department of Transportation. No such intersections currently exist in the city, although the city is pursuing one at the new Walgreens on East Bay Drive.

• The commission declined a request by Emery Morse, president of the Martinique North Condo Association, that the city waive its $816 permit fee for installing high-tech, sea turtle-friendly glass doors that cost $42,000, for which the Sea Turtle Conservancy awarded the condo a $6,000 grant. The city code does not allow the city to waive the fee, Bohnenberger said.

• Petruff informed commissioners that other cities are facing issues with senior arcades that allow Internet gambling, advising the board that such a business is not yet prohibited by Holmes Beach code.

• Commissioners authorized payment of $513,000, to be matched with another $513,000 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, for additional improvements to the city's stormwater retrofit project.

• Commissioners heard a report by Rae Dowling of FPL on its preventive maintenance program, which includes inspecting and replacing poles and trimming vegetation around power lines.

• The commission passed an ordinance to allow Manatee County to install, maintain and operate a water system in the city, and passed the first reading of an ordinance to allow the county to install, maintain and operate a wastewater system in the city.

• Commissioners reappointed Marilyn Shirley to the city's parks and beautification advisory committee for a two-year term.

Local performer seeks role on 'Glee'
Carol Whitmore

Trina Rizzo


HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Elementary School alumnus and local rising star performer Trina Rizzo took to the small stage recently to tryout for the national television show, 'The Glee Project."

Those who have seen her sing either solo or with her sister, Holly, or act in various plays and musicals in Manatee and Sarasota counties might want to help her see how far she can go in getting a role on the popular show.

Trina made an audition recording via her computer and submitted it to the program. To see it, log onto

In the tape, she said she feels she would be good on the show because she can act, sing and dance.

"It's my passion and I absolutely love it," she said.

"I need for people to see it and then hit the Like button. It seems like they hinted that the entries with the most Likes would have the best chance to have their auditions viewed by a casting director."

Rizzo, a senior at Manatee High School, had roles in several plays in the two-county area while she was still in elementary school.

"I'm concentrating on school right now," she said. "I'm taking six advanced classes this year, and I'm checking out several colleges, including some Ivy League schools. I've applied to Stanford, Yale and Columbia.

Rizzo said she has had roles in more than 25 plays and musicals, and she and Holly have appeared at Pittsburgh Pirates spring training games singing and signing the National Anthem. At their first appearance, they got a standing ovation. The two sisters are also working on another TV gig.

"We applied for 'America's Got Talent' last week," she said. "We won't hear from them until January."

As for "The Glee Project," she has a request.

"Watch the video and hit the 'Like' icon," she said, "then, tell your friends and ask them to vote."

Beachfront property sold

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Investor/developer Steven Hanson shakes hands with
real estate agent Barry Gould following Hanson's
purchase of the former Rosa Del Mar project.

BRADENTON BEACH – It went from a collection of beachfront mom and pop resorts to a condo-on-the-beach project that never got off the ground. Now the four lots at 2508, 2510, 2512 and 2516 Gulf Drive N. have been purchased, and plans call for luxury single-family homes fronting 250 feet of the Gulf of Mexico.

The new owners are a group of investors headed by Gulf Coast developer Steven Hanson through his company, 9 Solutions, LLC. He has purchased properties around the area and has worked with Shawn Kaleta, of Beach to Bay Investments, Inc, who has invested in several projects that produced rental properties around the Island. Kaleta is also involved in this project.

When GSR owned the land, it got a permit to build up to 14 condominium units on that land, but Hanson has other plans for it.

"We're going to start turning some dirt on this project, and we want to build up to five houses there," he said. "We did an analysis, and it indicated that's what the market calls for right now."

Hanson said they might consider joining two lots and building something bigger, but for now it appears the demand is for single-family homes. He said he is holding four lots back and marketing just one for now. The other four might wait until the market strengthens.

Hanson explained one reason for going with single-family homes.

"Banks have been reluctant to write mortgages for condos in the region," Hanson said. "Single-family residences have been our specialty for years, and there continues to be a strong demand."

He said the lower density is a plus for the community. He also said they are searching for an exclusive look.

"We are announcing an architectural challenge, inviting five architect to design each home in a coastal Caribbean style," he said. "The best design gets to name the subdivision."

"The property could be purchased in its present state as a building lot, or a buyer may contract for a completed home and close in 9 to 12 months," Gould said.

When asked how long Hanson had been looking at the property, he said four years, since he first came to the area.

GSR Development, LLC, bought the properties in 2003 and knocked down the resorts, building a wall of sand around the property to keep out trespassers. Then the development company went out of business and the property went into foreclosure. The loan was bought by a bank, which also went out of business and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) took possession of the land and hired Barry Gould, of Island Vacation properties, to list it. He represents the buyers while Butch Hunt, a Broker with Engel and Volkers, represents the seller. The FDIC requires that the sales price not be disclosed.

"It's the last big property on the Gulf," Gould said.

There will be an on-site information reception scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 4, from noon to 4 p.m. Call Gould at 941-448-5500 for details.

Randy Cooper to chair West Manatee Fire Commission

BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire commissioners last week elected Randy Cooper as the chair, David Bishop as the vice chair and Scott Ricci as the secretary/treasurer for the next year.

Cooper presented his plans for the Citizens' Fire Academy, which is slated to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Classes will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. one evening per week for six weeks.

Priority will be given to those who live in the district, and each candidate must fill out an application and be selected through a screening process. Class is limited to 30 students.

Most sessions will be held in the administrative building at 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. One session will be held at the training facility at Station 2 in Cortez and one will be held at the Manatee County Emergency Communications Center.

Sessions include administration, fire prevention, apparatus, emergency management, special teams and strategic planning/graduation. Sponsors and organizations will cover the cost of the academy.

Commissioners approved a public comment card for those who want to speak before the board to fill out in advance and turn in prior to the meeting. Comment is limited to three minutes.

They also approved a recommendation from Chief Andy Price to purchase a training system of big screen televisions, which will also provide video conferencing capabilities. The $4,500 cost will come from the training budget.

'Brawn on the Beach' to help victims

The BeachHouse restaurant, which sponsors "Brains on the Beach," a free lunch for the top scholars in Manatee County high schools at the end of each school year, will host an event of another kind on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., called "Brawn on the Beach."

Proceeds from this first-of-its-kind strong man contest at 100 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach will go to HOPE Family Services, serving victims of domestic violence.

City Fitness Gym, of Bradenton, is co-hosting this event with the BeachHouse. Contestants will compete in four categories for cash prizes: a truck pull, farmer's walk, log lift and atlas stone lift. Pre-registration is $25 at City Fitness or $30 beginning at 9 a.m. on the day of the event. First prize is $500, second prize is $250 and third prize is $125.

Ian Harrison, the owner of City Fitness, is providing all of the equipment for the contestants to use.

Come on out and watch. It's free, and there will be music with DJ Chris Grumley, food and drink specials and a chance to see the big guys battle on the beach.

"We are excited about working with the strongmen of Manatee County to lift up the community's women and children. Said BeachHouse owner Ed Chiles.

Clear Channel radio station 105.9 the Buzz will be broadcasting live from the BeachHouse. For more information on sponsorships and participating contact the BeachHouse at 779-2222 or Rebecca Shannon at To pre-register contact City Fitness at 941-746-4443 or visit their website at

Wedding Festival plans evolve

HOLMES BEACH – It all began five years ago with a plan to bring wedding professionals to the Island to see what it had to offer in services, accommodations and beaches. Now it's one of the largest wedding festivals in this part of Florida.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Vice President Deb Wing held the first of several planning meetings on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and the festival that brought so many to the Island is still intact, although its timing and some of its locations will be different.

Wing said that interest in this year's festival is bigger than ever.

"I've been getting e-mails since May," she said. "The CVB (Manatee County Convention and Visitors Bureau) is helping advertise it, and it is possible we'll have a $10,000 ad on a billboard in Orlando, where we attracted a lot of interest in the past."

Wing said they would co-op ads on Bright House cable TV and the festival would be mentioned on the outdoor marquees at the CVB headquarters and at the Crosley Mansion. She said the web site is also being redone.

The festival will be held on Sunday, May 6, with a gathering the night before for the vendors to get acquainted with each other and the Island. It had previously been held in February. Wing explained the change.

"When the CVB helped finance last year's event, it was with the expressed intent of making it so the vendors would want to spend the night," she said. "The problem was when the event was held during season, we didn't have enough rooms available to hold them all."

Last year, the festival attracted around 70 vendors who were stationed in nine locations where trolleys and limousines dropped off attendees.

Festival coordinator Katie Demick, who works for Tortuga Inn, told the group at Tuesday's meeting that the vendors need to sign up as soon as possible, since they will be given locations on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We like to mix it up every year, so the vendors don't work at the same location," she said. "Last year, attendees only had to visit six locations to qualify for the big gift basket drawing, but this year, they will have to visit them all."

Demick said they were still looking for a site for the grand finale, which is usually a mock wedding with everything supplied by vendors. It had previously been held at the Sandbar restaurant, on the beach.

"We are open to any offers," Demick said. "Of course, if they are on the beach where the crowd could enjoy a sunset, that would be great, but we're open to all suggestions."

Wing said they were also open to new host sites, where the attendees would disembark and mingle with the vendors.

"To be a host site, you have to be a Chamber member," she added.

For more information on the 2012 Wedding Festival, call Deb Wing at the Chamber, 778-1541.

Island Players performance opens
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Above, Herb Stump, as Doc, stands behind Phyllis
Elfenbein, as Lydia; Miriam Ring, as Dora; and Jo Kendall,
as Maggie. At right, Jo Kendall, as Maggie, and
Melissa Anderson, as Jean, look over a scrapbook.



The Island Players will perform the second play of their 63rd season, "Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner," from Dec. 1 through Dec. 11 at their theatre, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

The plot centers on three elderly women who live together. When their doctor moves a nurse in with them, she energizes them. When their nephew comes out to try to sell their house, things take a different course. The play is loaded with witty one-liners.

Directed by Russ Carthy, the cast includes Phyllis Elfenbein, as Lydia; Miriam Ring, as Dora; Jo Kendall, as Maggie; Melissa Anderson, as Jean; Herb Stump, as Doc; Vinnie Conte, as Calvin; John Durkin, as Phillip; and Nicholas Conners, as Blue.

The box office is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and one hour before each performance, or 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. shows and 1 p.m. for the Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

New pro settles in at Key Royale

Above, from left to right: Rich Popini, Don Findley
and Art McMillan at the putting green behind the
Key Royale Clubhouse.

HOLMES BEACH – Don Findlay has taken over the duties of instructing the golfers at Key Royale Club and he's impressed with what he's found.

"I played here before and I love it," Findlay said. "I'm impressed with how friendly everyone here is."

Findlay has worked as a pro at many golf courses in the area. He taught for 23 years at El Conquistador Golf Club (now IMG Academies Golf and Country Club) in Bradenton and also at Longboat Key Club Islandside and Serenoa in Sarasota. He took the position at Key Royale in mid-November and is now available for those golfers who need to tune up their game. He said he doesn't want to make any big changes at the club.

"I try to get golfers to build on their strengths," he said. "Some pros might want to come in and teach something new, like (David) Ledbetter style, and that's great for 26-year- olds."

He said he recognizes the fact that many of the almost 400 golfers at the club are not that young. But the members love their private golf club, the only championship golf course on Anna Maria Island. Despite the fact that the golf course has nine holes and is a par 32, it is deceivingly difficult to play.

"We get people in from elsewhere who try to master this course, and they find they can't do it," said Rich Popini, a member who said Findlay helped him improve his game.

"He doesn't try to change things, he just works with what's there and improves their game if they have problems.

"It's nice to have somebody look at your swing," Popini added. "We hope to get more people interested in golf."

Findlay said he is considering holding clinics for golfers who might have lost their edge.

"We're happy Don is here," said Key Royale Golf Chair Art McMillan. "When we start the clinics, it will be good for our golfers."

Members wanting to schedule a session may call Findlay at 941-704-2713.

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