Vice Mayor Jack Duncan plans to stay on Board

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Longboat Key Vice Mayor Jack Duncan decided last Thursday to continue his efforts on the Town Commission for a third and final term.

The decision was neither simple nor easy for Duncan, but after being urged by fellow commissioners and Mayor Jim Brown, as well as former Mayors Hal Lenobel and Joan Webster, Duncan resolved that he wants to take part in continuing to shape the island’s future.

For Mayor Jim Brown, the news was gratifying.

“I think it is great that Duncan will continue. I have spent the last two weeks working on him and trying to convince him to continue. Jack is a very intense guy, and works to the ‘nth degree,” said Brown.

Duncan had announced last July that he would not seek a third term, but after careful consideration he is firmly committed to putting in a final two years.

“There are numerous challenges underway and going forward that I want to be part of,” said Duncan. “I saw the groundswell of support to be part of that leadership process and it made me re-focus.”

Duncan said that his family has been very supportive and that while he will soon have two baby grandchildren, he realizes that in two years he will be at their side and be able to fulfill that part of his life.

Fellow Commissioner Phill Younger has also decided that he wants to stay on the commission for another term, and his at-large seat is up for re-election next year.

Younger has already filled the election qualification requirements and told Longboat Key News on Friday that he enjoys the work on the commission, and enjoys working with the other commissioners, “even though we do not always agree.”

Younger, Vice Mayor Duncan and Mayor Jim Brown all cite the process of re-zoning the community and dealing with the numerous properties that have non-conforming residences and uses as a major priority.

“I think the number one task of this commission over the next 12 months has to be revising the comprehensive plan and town codes to bring them in line with what our citizens want Longboat Key to be in the future. Determining that accurately and building the codes around what we as a community want is the important work that lies ahead,” said Duncan.

Commissioner Younger echoed the importance.

“The comprehensive plan and non-conforming policies are huge issues and have been since the Key Club court rulings. Those rulings impact how properties are developed and maintained,” said Younger.

Younger pointed out that Longboat Key developments such as Windward Bay, Longboat Harbour and Sutton Place are all non-conforming properties and cannot be modernized and updated without changes to the code.

Part of the issue is their density is greater than the underlying basis allows. Previous town commissions did not want the island built out at a high density and adopted numerous restrictions. For Commissioner Younger, these restrictions are keeping Longboat from modernizing to today’s standards.

“That does not mean unfettered development,” said Younger, “but we need to take these properties and people into consideration.”

For Duncan, the process of developing codes and amending how the town handles development needs to be anchored in a clear vision of what the town wants to look like going forward.

Duncan cited the Urban Land Institute Study and the town’s vision plan and mission statement as the foundations for determining that direction.

Duncan said, “Knowing what we want Longboat to look like and what kind of mix of zoning will best accomplish that goal will lead us to determine how the to move forward in general and on specific properties such as the Colony.

As far as the colony, which weighs on many Longboat residents, Mayor Brown had a very somber assessment of progress.

“The Colony will probably not happen in our lifetime; nothing could be more depressing. I do believe the town will re-zone it and make changes and they will just keep fighting with each other,” said Brown.

One person that Younger, Duncan and Brown all cite as an asset in moving the town forward is Town Manager Dave Bullock.

“Dave Bullock is a darn good manager and a smart guy who knows how to work the system,” said Duncan. “Bullock understands the process, and has an understanding of what we want to do and be going forward. We are now on the cusp of implementation and I look forward to the coming months,” said Duncan.

Younger said Longboat is very fortunate to have Bullock because he listens attentively and works well with staff and the surrounding communities.

Brown is in the final half-year of his third term on the commission and his third consecutive year as mayor. Still,  Brown vows to continue serving the town and said he will seek a seat on the town Planning and Zoning Board where he previously spent several years.

Brown, in addition to praising Duncan for his leadership, energy and dedication, said he hopes Younger is not challenged in next March’s election because “he works like a dog and is amazing in the amount of energy he puts in even on the minutia. He analyzes to the nth degree and seems to find joy in doing that.”

If no other candidates come forward, Duncan will continue in his District 2 seat, Younger will remain as a commissioner at-large and Brown’s District 4 seat will be open.

The final date for a candidate to qualify for the March 10, 2015 election, is Nov. 17 of this year.

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