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Colony fails to comply

 

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

Despite anger, admonitions and the threat of losing grandfathered units, the Colony unit owners are still in violation of numerous codes and stipulations the owners agreed to follow last month.

In a letter from Town Manager David Bullock to Colony Beach and Tennis Association Treasurer Robert Erazmus dated Nov. 28, Bullock reminded the Association that they are currently not maintaining the property as required by the town.

Planning and Building Director Robin Meyer visited the Colony on Nov. 12, and wrote a subsequent letter to Bullock listing all of the code violations that the Association would need to remedy.

Among the code violations were unused and exposed irrigation, flower bed areas to the north and south of the entrance that need to be weeded and mulched, and a center island bed needs to have replacement plants and mulch.

Another violation Meyer listed are doorways that have been broken open or glass windows that have been broken, allowing unrestricted access, and the possibility of pests within the units as well as open storage areas. Also, the support beam in the mid-rise center tower is still structurally unsound, according to town officials.

“Our recommendation is to have someone go through every building and address the securing of all openings to restrict the access and possibility of pest entry into the units, storage areas, maintenance areas, offices, stores and building areas,” wrote Meyer.

In October, the town adopted Resolution 2012-07 which requires that the Colony maintain vermin and pest control programs reviewed and approved by the town, secure all unsafe buildings and stairways, and restore and maintain the landscaping and irrigation on the property that is visible to the public and neighbors; and the Association had 30 days to comply.

Longboat Key Building Official Wayne Thorne said the Colony is still structurally deficient, and they can’t approve the building permit as they are waiting for the Colony’s engineering report.

Colony Association of Unit Owners President Jay Yablon

Colony Association President Jay Yablon says that he is thankful for the Town’s assessment of the situation, and that if there are any changes or remedies that need to be made to the property, he welcomes the town’s input.

“Obviously if the town goes down there and says something needs to be addressed, we will remedy it. I sent the town a reply back saying we’re glad they brought it to our attention,” said Yablon.

On the issue of shoring up the mid-rise building, Yablon thinks that there was a miscommunication between the town and the contractors, as there is a crew out currently working on the building and its damaged beam.

“As I understand it, there are people there today on site doing the work,” said Yablon on Friday, Nov. 30.

With regard to the open buildings and units, Yablon said that this is recent, only occurring in the past couple of weeks and is a result of vandalism.

“This was not an out-of-compliance issue, but a vandalism issue. It’s not like the town issued a warning and we ignored it. We have done many things to bring the Colony into compliance,” said Yablon.

On the last issue of the landscaping at the front of the Colony by Gulf of Mexico Drive, Yablon said that they have had lawn maintenance workers there to keep it cleaned up. Town Planner Steve Schield, who was in charge of this aspect of the Colony assessment, acknowledges that the Association did do some maintenance, but “it needs more tweaking with some mulch.”

“Again, I think this is all relatively tiny stuff, and I look at this like: you hire a gardener, and when he leaves you notice that he needs to come back and fix a few things, these are just minor tweaks to me,” said Yablon.

 

The terms of the resolution

At the October regular meeting, the town commission adopted Resolution 2012-07 which granted an extension for saving the amount of Colony units until Dec. 31, 2013. A final determination has to be made by that time regarding who legally controls the Colony, including the entire site composed of the units, the restaurant, tennis courts, mid-rise building, and outparcels.

Within 90 days after the determination of who controls the Colony, the controlling party must submit a complete redevelopment plan for re-opening the Colony. Once the plan is approved by the Town Manager, an additional extension will be granted for 36 months from the date of plan approval if the plan is to construct all, or substantially all, new buildings. If the plan is to renovate and reopen the existing buildings, the additional extension shall be for 12 months from the date of plan approval.  The commission, however, made it clear that it vastly prefers a newly built Colony rather than a renovation and the time frames support that initiative.

The resolution, as mentioned above, also addresses the vermin and visual blight issues that have offended the neighbors at the Aquarius condominium as well as commissioners who have expressed concern over the lack of attention placed on keeping the property in order and preventing the visual decay of the site from encroaching on the rest of the well-manicured key.

When the resolution was adopted, the Colony parties had 30 days to maintain vermin and pests, secure all unsafe buildings and stairways, restore and maintain landscaping and irrigation visible to neighbors. To make sure these conditions are met, the town required a $50,000 cash bond from the Association, so that if the Association did not get the work done, the town could  hire someone who would. The bond has yet to be paid.

The commission originally received the request to extend the grandfathering in July 2012, and the commission agreed unanimously that it wished to keep the unit count and encourage a redeveloped Colony. If the commission had not extended the Dec. 31, 2012 deadline, the Colony would revert back to its former zoning of 6 units per acre, thereby losing its current 237 grandfathered units, and instead allowed to have approximately 90 – 100 units.

 

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6 Responses for “Colony fails to comply”

  1. Jane Holzer says:

    Clowns. Each and every player in this saga are clowns.

  2. The Colony is destroyed, it will never be again. It is beyond repair, and needs a wrecking ball. Greed destroyed it. It was the greatest, but now only a memory. Murph or Jay or whoever, can fight forever, it’s a corpse. And everybody loses. You need a couple hundred million to rebuild there, where that money going to come from? RIP The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, once my little piece of heaven on this earth.

  3. Todd Goodman says:

    I spent countless spring vacations at The Colony as a kid growing up. My parents owned two units and over the years I was fortunate to have my own children experience the magic of The Colony. To see it left to crumble is sad to be sure. Beyond sad, really. It was the gem of Longboat Key, with a rich tennis tradition and the feel of a paradise “sanctuary” unlike any other resort in the world. But it is poetic justice to know that Murf and Jay and all the attorneys and managers and other assorted greedy losers who have seen to its ruin, will all be long gone – dead and buried – before this property ever sees another guest, regardless of what shape it ultimately takes. To think it could have been resolved for a few million dollars is heartbreaking and disgusting. The damage done to so many by so few is remarkable in its bald arrogance and disregard for history. May they rot (as rapidly as the resort itself) in hell…soon.

  4. Greg says:

    So once again, Jay Yablon, Colony Association President acts like he has no knowledge of the property’s failing condition. Really people, is there even a scant particle of credibility left in the leadership of this group? The City must stay steadfast and unrelenting in its pursuit to get this property cleaned up in line with the conditions the Colony agreed to in the extension resolution.

  5. Dan says:

    Can someone summarize in 2-3 brief paragraphs (not the blow by blow details which have my head spinnnig) what the next steps are with this place? This was a cornerstone of tourism dollars for so long it seems too complex to re-build give it’s current condition…..Thanks

  6. Georgie McFarland says:

    It’s very difficult to comply with the maintenance agreement when Association Members have stopped paying the $1500.00 quarterly Association common area charges. What is needed is for the Town to come in and perform what needs to be done and lein the property as well as fine the Association Board Members for failure to comply.

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