Longboat Key Letters – Week ending February 10, 2017

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Unrestrained development

To: Editor

Last week there was a letter published in the LBK News from a lady who owns 3 units in the Colony. She analyzed the situation and in spite of her ownership, came to the conclusion to vote against the proposed development and urges the readers to do same. Visualize how painful that conclusion was for her, and her courage to write the letter. She is going to lose money if the proposal is defeated.

In todays paper there is the story of the diligent, thorough, Building Dept. Official, who was terminated, after the neighbors complained of an odor coming from the home next door.

Then there is the wholesale rewrite of the Planning, Zoning and Building codes under the auspices of the previous mayor who chose to enact the Putin-Medved comedy here in Longboat Key. This is for a job that does not pay a dime and has no traveling allowance account. Think of what he would do if there was a salary. He will annul the term limits and call the troops. I am wrong. He does it, only for the love and devotion to the people of Longboat Key.

The same cabal is putting forward to a public vote, the proposed development of the Colony, this is at the same time that they are shedding tears for the traffic congestion. It takes nerve to cry about the traffic from one side of their mouth and then pass the referendum to the people with the hope that the turn out of voters will be so light that it could pass.

If you want to see an example of the unrestrained developments, you need only drive to Broadway on the North end of the Key, to the Bay and see the mammoth development, that was approved by the same P&Z board. A restaurant with 1,600 square feet of retail space. In a residential neighborhood. Yesterday, while watering some plants a car stopped by and asked me what are they building? I smiled and said a restaurant, the lady said “One restaurant?” You should see the amount of concrete being poured.

What could be done? Last election there were two candidates for two positions, thus no choice.

The mayor had a serious medical emergency and resigned, how do you fill the slot, easy you recycle a past commissioner?

We need to drain the swamp. We have term limits for the commissioners. These term limits are being subverted. Maybe the time out of government should be lengthened, maybe term limits should also apply for time on the different committees? Any suggestions?

Samir Ragheb

Longboat Key


Density Increase Referendums

To: Town Commission and Town Manager Dave Bullock

Could you please consider screening, or doing something within your power, to avoid having referendums that massively increase the density on Longboat Key. The Floriday’s motel referendum proposing 120 units on 2.62 acres was recently soundly defeated 78% to 22%. Our informal survey of Keep Longboat Special members shows that 82% are against the Colony proposal that increases the density from T6 (103 units/acre zoning but grandfathered in at 237) to 417 units of mixed tourism and residential (and a 20,000 sq. ft. ballroom for conventions, etc.). Unfortunately it takes many hours and thousands of dollars to address these referendums that the vast majority on Longboat Key are against. We are asking you to help us in avoiding these expenditures, as well as our time.

These referendums, for massive increases in density, that would most likely result in massive increases in traffic, seem to doom the more reasonable referendums that only ask for R6 (6 residential units/acre), and recently just a change of 1 unit (from office to residential)was voted down. Why did the town decide to limit density to T6 and R6? Because we didn’t want Longboat Key to become like Miami Beach. According to recent indications we still don’t. We have stopped the massive development complexes over the last 3 decades, lets not throw that all away starting now.

The tourist pool seems to attract developer who seek these massive increases in density. We believe that the original intent of the 250 tourist pool units approved in 2008, during a time of recession, was to help many different locations make reasonable minor expansions to maintain a healthy balance of residential to tourism. The tourist pool has 165 units remaining (85 units taken by Zota) that are no longer needed and are no longer desired. Is there a way to cancel the remaining 165 units? Or at a minimum, could we restrict the allocation of the 165 units to possibly a maximum of 10 or 20 units per location? Spreading the 165 units across many locations would prevent the massive proposals that so dramatically increase density, building height, and resultant traffic. We think almost all of us would like to see the current low-density aspect and lush landscaping character of Longboat Key maintained. Thank you for your consideration to this email and your service to our town. Please keep Longboat special.

Pete and Carla Rowan 

Longboat Key


To: Pete and Carla Rowan

The same 1984 Charter revision that reduced density on Longboat Key resulted in the avenue for property owners to apply for increases in density, by referendum.  Referendum is a process for which they have the right to apply, either by petition or to the Commission.  In either case, the voters express their choice.

If, as you contend, the vast majority on Longboat Key are against a request, that will be borne out by the vote.  The act you request, screening or some other barriers to the ballot, could be read as a denial of property rights and cause a great deal of difficulty for the Town and its taxpayers.

I am aware of your passion on this issue, and you are availing yourselves of many ways to communicate your point of view to the voters who will decide.

No one has the desire to turn Longboat Key into Miami Beach, even were such a thing possible.

Let us continue to have faith in our fellow citizens’ collective wisdom when presented with the arguments on the various sides of an issue. Thank you for sharing your views.

Terry Gans 


Longboat Key



To: Editor

Much has been written on the subject of the so called “Colony Redevelopment” which is not a redevelopment of The Colony at all but a nightmare for those of us who make  Longboat Key our home.

Most of these articles and letters have focused on further congestion and road traffic which is already bad but I would like to offer comments on the extremely negative impact on those of us whose prime recreational activity is tennis. Tennis is very popular here on Longboat with many of us relocating here after a stay at The Colony. But playing has become an ordeal for four or five months of season and approval of the proposed Colony Redevelopment may cause many to consider greener pastures .

For those of us who are not among the so called one percent of affluence and have their own private courts there is the Longboat Key Tennis Center, a really nice, affordable Municipal Club with 10 soft courts and open to the public for day rate, season or annual membership. There are currently about 400 members.

Tennis Director Kay Thayer and her staff do a remarkable job of dealing with the five month overload which is already present.

There are numerous men’s and women’s teams, Several Senior groups, Round Robins and clinics conducted by the three teaching tennis professionals.

The courts are mobbed from dawn to dusk and in many cases you need to enter a lottery in order to bid for a court on which you are limited to 90 minutes of play.

To add to the problem there are eight other courts at the south end of the Island which are associated with the Longboat Key Club Hotel but the already approved expansion of the Key Club will result in tearing down these courts

Want more bad news?

The expanded Hilton will be coming on line and they have no tennis courts which will result in more pressure on the Municipal Club.

Last but not least, we now have the alleged Colony Redevelopment which, if approved as proposed, will result in 417 units with many who will desire to play tennis.

You can tell how much the developer cares about impact on the Longboat Key Tennis community by noting that where the Colony had 20 tennis courts for 237 units the Unicorp developer is proposing two tennis courts for 417 units.

They obviously do not care one iota for the impact that their proposal has on traffic, tennis or anything else on this Island. The word that comes to mind is “Greed.”

Please vote and vote ‘No’ on March 14th.

Bill and Arden Allen

Longboat Key


Vote ‘No’

To: Editor

The huge expansion planned by Unicorp, must not pass. Anyone voting for it, is voting for more traffic jams and the proposed Trolley Bus to be stuck in them, with the rest of us. Apart from the traffic, nearby properties, will also be very seriously affected. A ‘No’ vote is the best thing for Longboat Key.

Malcolm Barry

Longboat Key


A Letter from Director Jane Buckman

To: Town Commission

To my friends and creative allies at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, I bid you a fond farewell.

Friday, February 10, 2017 will be my last day as Director of this magical place of arts, culture and community. After 9 years and countless exhibits, concerts, lectures, and classes, along with many laughs, tears, and extreme joy, it is time to move on to a new opportunity.

Beginning March 1st, I will take on a new creative leadership role as Deputy Director of the Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg. Imagine Museum is a new cultural institution on the gulf coast that will feature the story of contemporary studio glass in the United States from the late 1950’s forward to today. The collection has over 500 pieces of studio glass sculpture and growing! The goal will be to have the museum open in late Fall 2017.

My stewardship of the arts on Longboat Key as a representative of Ringling College has been a gift that I will treasure. The wonderful people I have met, the artists I have come to know, and the many friends made along the way have enriched my life and understanding of the power of creativity and the lifeblood it provides for the human spirit.

Stay creative! Continue enjoying all of the riches engaging in the arts can bring. The Imagine Museum’s address is 1901 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL. I look forward to seeing you and touring you around the museum when you come to St. Pete.

Jane Buckman  

Longboat Key Center for the Arts


Thanks for meeting

To: Pat Zunz and Commissioner Ed Zunz

It was wonderful seeing you both for breakfast this morning. Thanks to you both!

The key for sure is the emergency situation on Greer.  I think it important we keep that focus on that as the first priority.

I know Longbeach is having a meeting with the town at 1pm on Feb 14th. Brian Connelly ask me if I could go and I will plan to do so. I think you might want to go, too, Pat; just so North Shore Longboat Key has the chance to see what is going on and to help keep the various Associations coordinated. With Maureen it might also be good for you to sit in for the same reason.

My opinion is that before we launch too many things we need to get the big one behind us. That does not mean the other things should not be discussed with the town but we don’t want the approach to be fractured by too many things at once thereby diluting the impact we have made on Greer.

The longer-term strategic plan can have the cove and Longbeach erosion as tactical targets as we move forward.  I am happy to play whatever role makes sense and would be happy to coordinate with a town leader (Mike?) to develop that plan over the next months and even spend significant time on it should a consulting relationship for that specific thing be of interest.

As far a funding goes…whatever targets are highest priority can be funded as needed and voted but I think this aspect can be discussed with the town so we can all support them in getting it done.  The first step however is the short and then medium term Greer solution and funding followed by the overall plan with specific targets identified in short, medium and longer time frames.

Greer and the Plan should be developed in parallel but we don’t need to emphasize the plan other to let everyone know it is under development, will be a complete plan and will consider Longboat Key in total.

I will develop an outline for the comprehensive beach plan and send it to you Pat so you can review. We can then decide what makes sense for the workshop in March.  I also really liked Ed’s idea of separate regular meeting on the shorelines because of the complexity and focus that will be needed to really have a comprehensive holistic approach that will gain wide citizen support when they realize that everyone is at risk and the solutions will be Longboat Key wide.

Bob Bunting

CEO Waterstone Strategies Inc.





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