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Date of Issue: June 30, 2010

Anonymous strikes Anna Maria businesses

Kelly Kary, owner of the Olive Oil Outpost on Anna Maria’s Pine Avenue, said she recently asked Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus if he knew who had made a complaint about her business to the city’s code enforcement officer. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

At least one Anna Maria business owner received an anonymous notecard from someone indicating he or she would no longer do business with the company because the owner had signed the petition to recall Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus from office.

The unsigned card was postmarked in St. Petersburg and read, “I saw your name on the list of people to recall our City Commissioner. Couldn’t believe you would join the gang to ruin our city.

“I have used your company for years and recommended you to others, but no more.

“Stoltzfus is doing what we elected him to do — save our city from PAR.”

The names of the Anna Maria registered voters who signed the first Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus petition became public record when the petition was submitted, according to Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat.

PAR is Pine Avenue Restoration LLC, a company that first announced it would develop retail-office-residential complexes on Pine Avenue in 2007 in response to the city’s comp plan allowing mixed-use properties in the ROR.

 Stoltzfus has publicly opposed PAR’s site plans and has condemned already constructed projects.

Stoltzfus said in an e-mail released to the public through a public records request earlier this year that he’d like to raise the idea of taking a bulldozer to PAR’s projects on Pine Avenue.

The business owner declined to be identified for fear of further retribution, but resolved to sign the second petition to proceed to remove Stoltzfus from office.

Recall

Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus committee chair Robert Carter said the anonymous note to the Anna Maria business owner is another example of Stoltzfus-supporter scare tactics against those who signed the first recall petition. He said the recall committee already has 250 signatures on the second petition.

 “Such tactics are not unexpected when the real legal issues of the recall are uncomfortable for these people. As more business owners, individuals and their livelihoods are threatened, our resolve and support grows,” Carter said.

He noted that the recent spate of anonymous complaints to code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon about signs and unauthorized items on porches were all directed against Pine Avenue business owners and city residents who signed the first petition or lease space from PAR.

Pine Avenue businesses targeted

Some of the targeted business owners say they have talked to Stoltzfus and confronted him about the anonymous complaints. And the commissioner has told them he had no knowledge of the complaints, at least, according to one owner.

Tammy Anzalone of Pine Avenue’s Timeless Treasures, who rents her space from PAR, said she received several code enforcement letters in early June and she believes Stoltzfus is behind the complaints.

She said she called Stoltzfus June 4 and told him that “these numerous, unwarranted complaints to the city’s code enforcement officer were petty and uncalled for.”

Anzalone said Stoltzfus didn’t deny that he had anything to do with the complaints.

“He told me he felt sorry for me because my business was never going to survive in Anna Maria. He said the community had no desire to have retail businesses and would never support my business,” Anzalone claimed.

She said Stoltzfus advised her to “disassociate myself from Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman” as a means to prevent further code complaints.

After she explained to Stoltzfus that she had moved her business from Holmes Beach to Anna Maria, she said Stoltzfus told her she would have been “better off staying in Holmes Beach, that I did not have a chance here. The community is not in favor of retail business and I was going to fail.”

Frustrated, Anzalone said she finally asked the commissioner if he was against retail business in Anna Maria and, she said, he “stated that he was.”

Anzalone said Stoltzfus also commented that he “felt really bad for the owner of the Anna Maria Olive Oil Outpost” because they were “in the same position” as her business.

Outpost owner Kelly Kary, who also leases a storefront from PAR, said she wished Stoltzfus would stop talking about her business behind her back. At one recent public meeting, Stoltzfus said the store was not doing very well, an allegation that Kary flatly denies.

She said she called him up and said, “I hope you don’t feel too sorry for me. We are doing quite well here.”

She said Stoltzfus then retracted his statement about her business, but said he felt sorry for other Pine Avenue businesses.

Kary said she then asked Stoltzfus if he was behind the anonymous complaints and he told her he didn’t know who was complaining.

Kary said Rathvon also received a complaint about her business regarding her sign and the size of a sales tag on one item on the porch. She said the complaint was resolved satisfactorily.

However, Kary said, Rathvon told her the complaint against her business was made by an anonymous source.

Efforts to reach Stoltzfus for comment on the statements made by Anzalone and Kary and the postcard were unsuccessful.

E-mails sent to attorney Richard Harrison, who represents Stoltzfus, were not answered by press deadline.

Harrison sent an e-mail to The Islander last week stating he would be out of his office until June 29.

Stoltzfus has directed all media inquiries about the recall effort, public records requests and other legal issues involving him to Harrison.

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