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New private beach law carries implications in Anna Maria

Related: Anna Maria attorney points out private beach pitfalls »

After two weeks of scrambling to understand the ramifications, a new law shouldn’t pose a problem for Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach officials. But that may not be the case in Anna Maria.

Officials in the three island cities are still searching for copies of the erosion control line established in 1992 and maps with the established mean high tide lines, which were surveyed in conjunction with a 1992 beach renourishment project.

But Mayor John Chappie said April 9 privatizing any section of the beach in Bradenton Beach is “absolutely out.”

Chappie said “all of Bradenton Beach” has been renourished — the work completed in 2017 — and it does not fall under bill HB631 signed into law March 30. The Possession of Real Property Act allows for landowners to privatize the beach at their property seaward to the mean high tide line. Beach renourishment projects supersede the new law, making the beach public wherever renourishment occurred.

Holmes Beach, likewise, will have little or no effect due to the law. The Gulf beaches from the Bradenton Beach line to the Anna Maria city limits are renourished.

According to city engineer Lynn Burnett, the erosion control line, or ECL sits far up in the sand, generally along the vegetation or dune line in Holmes Beach.

Landowners most likely would be legally challenged by the city if public use of the beach is questioned. The new law requires cities and counties to go to court to designate privately owned beaches as public under a claim of customary use.