Conflicting codes cause confusion

Associate Publisher

With the recent Hilton expansion application before the town, the town commission must quickly determine which of two conflicting methodologies it will use to charge the developer for adding units and to create open space.

It all comes down to an historical regulation on Longboat Key that any time a developer adds dwelling units to a site, a compensating amount of money must be placed into a fund for the town to acquire open and recreational park space to meet the needs of those future residents. The method to assess the fee in lieu of dedication has historically used a formula with multipliers to calculate what the developer should pay.

But there are two problems with the formula. One is that the Comprehensive Plan states that there should be 12 acres of open space per 1,000 population. However, the formula that has been used to assess the fee has been 5 acres per 1,000 population.

Another problem is the number of persons per unit. According to Town Manager David Bullock, after reviewing the town’s ordinances, there are two conflicting formulas that were adopted in 1994 “without a stated reason for the difference.”

One formula uses 2.01 persons per unit for population, and one uses 1.78 persons per unit for population. The main difference in the two methodologies under review is in the assumption of how many people will end up occupying a unit or hotel room in this instance.

Next Wednesday, March 20, the town commission will be faced with deciding between two conflicting methodologies and formulas that have both been historically used. The main difference is that the financial impact will differ significantly for the cost to the developer and the money paid to the town.

Planning and Zoning Director Robin Meyer said it is a policy decision, and for some reason the policy was adopted at the 12 acres per 1,000 population but it was implemented and applicants paid at the 5 acres per 1,000 population formula. Meyer said that the two should not be in conflict, but it’s a commission, and not a staff decision. Meyer also noted that the fee money can be used for the development of a community center or acquisition and development of land.

According to town staff, based on the Hilton’s requested 85 additional tourism units, there are three scenarios they have put together to assess the fee:

Using 2.01 persons per unit and 5 acres total fee is: $1,913,778

Using 1.78 persons per unit and 5 acres total fee is: $1,694,789

Using 1.78 persons per unit and 12 acres total fee is $4,067,493

The number of 2.01 persons per unit and 12 acres was not calculated for the meeting.


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