Rules governing Longboat and Colony redevelopment head to Town Commission

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A fundamental ordinance that will affect everything from how the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort is allowed to develop as well as many other aging properties, is heading to the Longboat Key Town Commission.

The town’s Planning and Zoning Board spent the past year developing the Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance, which allows owners and applicants of properties flexibility in how a site is developed or redeveloped. At a Planning and Zoning Board meeting last week, the board put a maximum cap of 80 feet on any building in a Planned Unit Development. That cap would impact a proposal that Colony Unit Owners are currently voting on to redevelop the property since it calls for 10 story buildings.

The ordinance allows mixed use in Planned Developments so residential and tourism could hypothetically be incorporated on the same site. That is exactly what the Colony proposal made by Unicorp anticipates.

The town commission will consider the regulations on Dec. 12 and will have an opportunity to address several fundamental questions including:

• Is it wise to cap height when one of the desired goals is additional open space?

• Can neighborhood compatibility be used to control height while allowing an applicant to make their case to the community and the commission without a height constraint?

Town Planning and Zoning Director Alaina Ray said at the meeting there was no discussion or rationale as to why specifically the cap of 80 feet, but it was suggested and adopted.

Unicorp President Chuck Whittall has stated that over the next few months leading up to a public referendum in March, he looks forward to visiting neighborhood groups and homeowners associations and holding public meetings to discuss his plan and seek support to add 180 residential units to the existing grandfathered 237 tourism units that currently exist.

Any changes to the ordinance made by the commission by town law must go back to Planning and Zoning Board for another review before the ordinance can proceed.

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