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North LBK rezone ballot for hotel to hit voters

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key voters will soon decide the fate of a plan for a 120-room hotel the Floridays Group wants to build on 2.62 acres on the north end of Longboat Key.

Absentee ballots will be mailed out by the Manatee and Sarasota election offices on July 28 to voters who requested one. For those voting on the Key, Election Day will be August 30.

Specifically on the ballot is referendum language the Longboat Key Town Commission approved that will ask voters if they want to re-zone property on the north end to make way for the hotel.

Floridays needs to re-zone the assembled properties that it has under contract from commercial to tourism zoning. To do so, the first step under town regulations is to ask voters for their approval to add density to the site. The town charter does not allow any density to be added without voter approval.

Opposition to the hotel plan has been pronounced on the island with many residents saying traffic will be a major unsolvable issue and that the Hotel will lack the ability due to the location not on the water to support high room rates.

When the Commission approved the ballot language last spring, the plan met with more than an hour of public opposition and comment.

Floridays has said it expects its average room rate to be $200 per night.

The plan that the developer has is to win the referendum, and then request a re-zone to T-6 zoning, which allows six tourism units per acre. That re-zone would allow only 15 units on the site and Floridays wants to be allocated an additional 105 tourism units out of a pool of units that the commission controls and can allocate that was approved by voters in 2008.

In 2008, voters agreed to allow the commission to dole out 250 tourism units, of which 85 have been allocated to the owners of the former Hilton on Longboat Key, which is currently being redeveloped.

Several residents have written comments to Longboat key News stating the Hotel would bring a negative impact on the beach as well as a rise in noise pollution and said that it would result in an overall reduction in the quality of life and would damage property values.

Another resident, Mark Zintel has said the vacant gas station where the hotel is planned has remained an eyesore for years and that the Floridays opportunity and assemblage of the vacant property may be the only hope to clean up the northern end of Longboat Key.

Village resident Craig Walters said that although the gas station and vacant bank building are displeasing, he would be happy to wait for a better solution. He said the town has not done land use planning and has not studied whether a hotel is an appropriate use for that property. Resident John Summers said that with 700 tourism units coming online on Longboat Key in the next five to seven years that the town should not even be talking about adding density.

Commissioner Phill Younger has been at odds with fellow commissioners with the way the referendum question simply asks voters if they agree in allowing the property to be re-zoned to T-6 and become eligible for units out of the tourism pool. Younger says the wording is misleading because the applicant is really seeking to put 37.2 units per acre.

The following is the official referendum question:

May the Town allow contiguous properties located at 6990, 6960, 6920, 6916, and 6910 Gulf of Mexico Drive and 6931, 6927, and 6919 Palm Drive (collectively totaling approximately 2.62 acres of land), currently zoned as C- 2, C-3, or O-I districts with no density, to increase density to T-6 tourism use (which allows a maximum of six [6] units per acre), and thereby become eligible to apply for tourism pool units?

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1 Response for “North LBK rezone ballot for hotel to hit voters”

  1. Steve Keller says:

    The misleading wording of the density referendum ballot question is a testimony to the pro-development sentiment which exists in our elected LBK Town Government. One wonders when these officials will start protecting the interests of the residents who put them in office rather than bowing to pressure from developers who won’t quit until they extract every dollar they can get out of every undeveloped square inch of LBK – leaving one of Florida’s unique treasures as one big Commercial parking lot with it’s own
    residential neighborhoods. Hope everyone remembers this one on Election Day.

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