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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending March 9, 2018

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.

Open House (Thank you)

To: Town Commission

On behalf of all the employees we want to express our appreciation for each of your attending the Open House today.

Although the crowd was light this year we had several residents that were able to meet with the departments and get their questions answered.

Again, thank you for attending and I hope you enjoyed the hamburgers and hot dogs!

Paul B. Dezzi

Fire Chief

Longboat Key Fire Rescue

 

Open House

To: Fire Chief Paul Dezzi

It was a fine event and enough people were there.  Unfortunately, some lack of communication apparently caused the Garden Club’s popular house tour to occur on the same date, which might have caused some drop off in attendance at both.  Too bad to miss either opportunity.   

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Greer Island discussion with Manatee

To: Town Commission

I set up a follow up meeting with the County Administrator after the Joint Meeting with the Manatee County Commission to discuss issues associated with Greer Island.   We talked this afternoon and had a very productive discussion.   The County Administrator said they recognize that Greer Island is county property and will work with the Town to help address concerns from the Town and the residents.

One of the items we discussed was the trash and littering that occurs on their property.  The County has agreed to provide clean up/trash pick-up on Greer Island on a regular basis going forward.  They are starting immediately with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and will evaluate the frequency after April to determine how often is necessary.

We are also talking about opportunities for additional assistance from the County and will be following up to continue that discussion.  In addition we have set up a separate meeting to discuss the Town’s re-nourishment/groin project planned for that area.

I will keep you up to date as we continue to discuss Manatee County’s assistance related to Greer Island.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager, Town of Longboat Key

 

Plaque request

To: Commissioner Randy Clair

Looking for some assistance and hoping you can help. My friend’s family visited the Colony on Longboat for many years. Her Mom passed away and a plaque was placed at building one. The last name is Eaton. Is there any way to retrieve the plaque before bulldozing? Thank you so much. If I have reached you in error would you kindly forward this on to the correct person(s)? I am here until the end of March when I return to NH where my friend lives.

Pat Zimmerman

Longboat Key

 

To: Pat Zimmerman

Thank you for your thoughtful request. We will do our best to locate the plaque prior to demolition. Please hold onto my contact information below to follow up with me and I will do the same with your contact info.

Allen Parsons

Director | Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Please Approve the Unicorp Proposal for the Colony Property

To: Town Commission

We write you in support of the current Unicorp proposal for development of the former Colony property, and we believe we are members of the “Silent Majority” here on Longboat Key.

As twenty-year residents of Longboat Key, our family loved to walk down the beach to rent a catamaran at the Colony Resort, or to have a drink at the Monkey Bar. So many of the residents we know first came to LBK as guests at the Colony.  We were never bothered by the amount of automobile traffic to and from the site.  After eight years of deterioration, it is past time to get moving to restore that property from the eyesore it is today to the prime attraction it can become.

We have never met the developer personally, but he has shown great commitment to this project and compromised several times to accommodate the desires of the community. A few people object to the size of the ballroom, but it is smaller than the one that was there previously.  A few others ask why Unicorp should be given all of the remaining 165 tourism units, but has anyone else applied for use of those 165 units over the past ten years? We think not.

We would love to have the five-star St. Regis resort be our neighbor and begin introducing our beautiful island to another generation of potential residents.  Please “do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  This is a very good development proposal, and we hope you will approve it on Tuesday.

Jim and Linda Mitchell

Longboat Key

 

Too little deliberation on Colony redevelopment

To: Town Commission

We attended two full days of the Commission meeting on the Colony and could not help but be disappointed that there was so little deliberation on a matter as important to the future of our town as the St. Regis development.

We believe that Preserve Longboat Inc. presented compelling data showing that the size of the meeting space proposed for the project is illogical and out of scale with other similar luxury properties and that a ballroom of 5,000 to 6,000 square feet would be more in keeping with the size and location of the property – and importantly with the limited capacity of the two-lane road that serves Longboat Key.

Furthermore, the applicant’s own independent study by Ernst & Young recommended a ballroom on the beachfront property of “roughly 4,700 square feet.”  This point was raised by the Vice Mayor during your discussion, but was not seriously discussed.

We respectfully ask that at the March 16 second reading, you consider requiring the applicant to reduce the size of the ballroom to the 5,000 to 6,000 square foot range, a size that would seat 425 guests comfortably without offering the future hotel management the temptation of additional meeting space.

In addition, we request clarification at the second reading on a few points relating to the motion that was passed at the first reading.

The applicant has stated that they will work with the staff to develop language that limits the attendance at all special events, including those that involve the event lawn and the beach, to 425 guests. We ask that you make certain that the documentation reflects this agreement.

The 7,650-square foot ballroom that was approved results in meeting space that is 2,350 square feet less than that which is reflected in the applicant’s plans.  We believe that the applicant has stated that they will remove those 2,350 square feet from the meeting center.  We ask that as a condition of approval the 2,350 square feet be removed from the plans altogether and the footprint of the meeting center reduced accordingly.  We further suggest that the departure for the setback to the north be removed.  Of course, should you decide that a further reduction is in order, there should be a corresponding reduction in footprint and mass.

We ask that you confirm that the condominium units will not be part of the hotel rental pool. We ask that you confirm that 225-car parking plan proffered by the applicant represents the maximum cars for a special event and that no cars will be parked on neighboring property or in a way that obstructs emergency access to the facilities on the property.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns as you approach this important vote.  Again, while we support, in general terms, the development plan that Unicorp has presented, we want to ensure that the conference center is the right size for the great community we live in given the constraint of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

David Lapovsky

Preserve Longboat Inc.   

 

Applications process does not serve citizens well

To: Town Commission

I am sure you are exhausted after the St. Regis hearings. Several things came to mind watching the hearings on this application.

We, at Planning and Zoning worked diligently to bring forward changes to the Comprehesive Plan and land use code which would provide more up to date information for the purpose of considering land use applications. Unfortunately, this stalled at the Commission almost a year ago and leaves us with the code we have to use today.  Many of the areas that have been criticized with this application were addressed in the materials put forward to you.

Second, the issues of ownership at The Colony certainly makes clear this fiasco of condo ownership is not good for any community. The issues of involuntary rebuild will bring this issue up over and over again. It is clear we need more understanding of “standing” when these problems resurface if we are damaged to the point of an involuntary rebuild of the island.

Finally, the issue of how major projects are considered in Florida clearly does not serve localities well. I realize this is an issue for Tallahassee, but we may want to see what the Florida towns and counties are experiencing. The way we must hear applications and modify applications does not serve our citizens well. It serves developers.

BJ Bishop

Chair, Planning and Zoning Board

Town of Longboat Key

 

Thank you for your hard work

To: Town Commission, Town Staff

I wanted to again thank you for your very hard work and extended hours that every one of you put into this effort.

I know the volume of documents and hours of sitting and hearing testimony is very tiresome and tedious.  You are to be applauded for your tireless dedication and commitment to seeing this through.  It is truly appreciated by me and certainly not taken for granted. I look forward to a positive new chapter on this beautiful piece of property.

I promise you that I am committed to make this a place that every one of you and the residents of Longboat are proud of once again. I wish you all the best with sincerest gratitude. See you next week.

Charles Whittall

Unicorp, Orlando

 

We Support the Colony Redevelopment

To: Town Commission

Tomorrow is a critical day in the future of Longboat Key.  We are writing to express our full support for Unicorp’s redevelopment proposal for the Colony.  We have been coming to Longboat Key for over 20 years, and approximately two years ago we made a long-term commitment when we purchased a condo at Seaplace.  During our early years at Longboat Key, we always made a point of eating at the Colony’s outstanding restaurant, and we often strolled down the beach from Seaplace to the Colony pier. We have been appalled at the blight that has occurred since the Colony shut down.  We have been following Unicorp’s plans to redevelop the Colony site as those plans have evolved in response to comments by the public and Longboat Key staff.  The process for evaluating the plans has been extremely thorough.  It is now time to approve the project.  We have personal experience with St. Regis properties.  They are of the highest quality, and they will make a very positive contribution to Longboat Key.  The traffic generated by the project will be less than was formerly generated by the Colony.  And the substantial new property taxes and tourist taxes that will be generated by the project are the icing on the cake.  In sum, we fully support the project in its current form, and we ask you to approve it tomorrow.

David and Nancy Schwiesow

Longboat Key

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