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Date of Issue: September 28, 2006

Holmes Beach survey: county survey wrong

Some residents of Westbay Cove condominiums who thought they were no longer living in Holmes Beach because a county survey given to city officials two weeks ago showed the city limits passing through the east end of the complex may now be bona fide Holmes Beach residents - at least according to the city's own survey. (The Islander, Sept. 20)

Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes said that surveyor Leo Mills "does not agree" with the Manatee County survey done by the engineering firm of Zoller, Najir and Shroyer.

While Duennes said last week that while Mills is still putting the finishing touches to the survey he was hired to provide, at this point his survey lines show the city limit along Manatee Avenue well east of where the county survey indicated.

In other words, said Duennes, all of Westbay Cove is in Holmes Beach, at least according to the Mills survey.

Duennes said Mills believes ZNS surveyors may have worked with a Florida Department of Transportation map that was based upon a U.S. government survey done in the late 1800s. Those surveys were done using a magnetic compass. Today's modern surveyors use computerized equipment and the deviation between the old surveys and the computerized versions could be substantial, he indicated.

Duennes said Mills plans to complete his survey this week and meet with ZNS surveyors to discuss differences in the surveys, determine where the errors are and which map is correct.

The survey controversy erupted because the city was originally trying to determine if a portion of the Kingfish Boat Ramp was within the city limits or in the unincorporated portion of Manatee County. Holmes Beach asked the county for a survey, but the city decided to obtain its own survey, rather than rely completely on Manatee County.

Good thing, too.

Duennes was a bit surprised two weeks ago when the county survey showed that not only was Kingfish Boat Ramp well within unincorporated Manatee County, so too was the easternmost portion of Westbay Cove, including a part of Westbay Cove South. At that time, Duennes had still not received an opinion from Mills.

Officially, however, who lives where is still up in the air.

City Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he's not waiting for any surveyors or lawyers to hold a series of meetings to settle the issue. He planned to raise the subject of annexing all land on both sides of Manatee Avenue up to the Anna Maria Island Bridge - including Kingfish Boat Ramp - at the commission's Sept. 26 meeting.

"I just want to get a consensus from the commission to have our city attorney proceed with the legal details," said Zaccagnino.

Annexation makes good sense, the commissioner added, because the city already maintains and polices Kingfish Boat Ramp and most mainlanders think it's already in Holmes Beach. "There's no reason it shouldn't be part of the city. I think the boat ramp belongs in the city," he emphasized.

Zaccagnino said that if the city waits for the issue to be resolved among jurisdictions, the DOT will likely bring its own survey to the controversy and that would probably be different than the city and county surveys.

Annexation is a way to "resolve all concerns," he said.

The need for a survey arose earlier this year when the county said it wanted to increase the available parking at county-owned Kingfish Boat Ramp, install permanent rest rooms and remove some of the Brazilian pepper trees at the west end of the ramp area.

The city and Westbay Cove residents opposed the plan and the city requested that Manatee County provide a survey to determine the exact limits of city and county property.

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