Longboat Key Letters – Week ending April 13, 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.

Sea Turtle – lack of enforcement

To: Rachel Horne

Ms. Horne, thanks you for your email.  As you mention, this will be my first turtle season here on Longboat Key so I did check with our staff on activities from last year.

The Town’s  2017 stats related to our turtle protection efforts are included below.

It is obvious from the statistics that the Town has placed a priority on compliance with the turtle regulations through the efforts of our code enforcement officer, supported by our police officers who performed follow-up inspections on the beach when the code enforcement officer was not available.  The Town has focused on education and compliance through our existing code enforcement process.  The current process includes processing violators to the Code Enforcement Board where fines can be levied.  At the Town Commission’s April Workshop we will be discussing a citation method where a violator could be issued a fine up front for violating the regulations.

Here are the stats for the 2017 season.

Code Enforcement Officer performed 37 inspections.

Community Service Specialist performed 11 nighttime inspections and tagged 63 different furniture violations during the nighttime patrol of the beach.

Patrol Officers tagged 16 beach furniture violations.

81 Beach Obstructions (Chairs, umbrellas, etc.)

81 were issued 24 hour tags (44 cases came into compliance, 1 case we removed and impounded the furniture).

1 issued Courtesy Notice.

2 resulted in written cases.

50 cases were opened for lighting violations.

36 were closed with voluntary compliance.

13 are active and we are working with property owners/managers to bring into compliance.

1 case has been forwarded to the Code Enforcement Board.

Lighting survey for beach project was conducted the beginning of May and again in July per permit requirement. CEO documented 136 cases where lights were observed from the beach.

116 first class letters were sent to physical address and secondary listed address with an educational brochure and letter from the Town.

20 street lights were noted and an email was sent to Public Works to contact FP&L.

398 email complaints on lighting and furniture from Turtle Watch and other volunteers, residents, and visitors.

139 complaints on 32 properties found in violation and Code Enforcement initiated action. (29 Courtesy Notices for lighting violations, 1 Courtesy Notice for furniture violations, 2 Notices Code Violation for lighting violations, and 7 properties tagged for furniture).

The remaining 259 email complaints are either under investigation or unsubstantiated due to insufficient information or found not in violation.

Of the 398 email complaints, all email complaints on a property with a real property owner/manager resulted in a certified letter from the town and an educational brochure on the town’s marine turtle protection ordinance being mailed to the property owner/property manager.

213 certified letters with educational brochures were mailed out to properties.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key


Sea Turtle rules – lack of enforcement

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

Thank you very much for getting back to me. Do you know if this year the same policy of giving warning – and not fines – will be continued in regards to enforcement?

Rachel Horne

Longboat Key


To: Rachel Horne,

While I am not expert in the issue you are highlighting, I believe the answer to you question is simple. In the first season of the implementation of the new rules, it was decided to use the first year to educate the community about the new rules and give warning to violations. This is a common practice when new regulations are introduced. I’d also like to point out that last season was historically high year for nests.

Jim Brown


Longboat Key


Sea Turtle rules – lack of enforcement

To: Rachel Horne

As a long-time Mote docent and a turtle patrol volunteer for several years, I was also surprised by the LBK disorientation statistics and assure you that the Commission will look into this.

Ken Schneier


Longboat Key


FDOT Road Watch Advisory: US 41 from Browning Street to 11th Street

To: Town Commission

There will be construction along U.S. 41 from Browning Street to 11th Street with specific work to occur at Fruitville Road.  Starting April 15th, the outside northbound lane of U.S. 41 at Fruitville Road will be closed for two weeks.  Right turns will be made from the center lane.  Most of the overall work will be at night.  The expected completion says “Spring 2018.”

Isaac Brownman

Director of Public Works

Longboat Key


Introduction to ManaSota League of Cities: sea level rise advocacy group

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

Thank you for your interest in ManaSota League of Cities (MSLC).

Our organization consists of nine municipalities in Manatee and Sarasota Counties as follows:  Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, North Port, Palmetto, Sarasota and Venice, with eight being coastal cities.  MSLC, established in 1991, is a regional league of Florida League of Cities, hosted by the Town of Longboat Key.  Membership consists of an elected official from each of the nine municipalities.  Sea level rise and flooding, as you may expect in coastal communities, is a concern.

Mission statement:  “To promote the interests of municipalities in Manatee and Sarasota Counties; to communicate with the Florida Legislature and the United States Congress on issues of interest to all local governments; to provide to its members a forum for discussion, problem solutions and effective communication.”

Meetings are bi-monthly and open to the public.  There is a section of the agenda for public input (limited time to speak), however, if a presentation is desired, that must be a request for an agenda item.

The next meeting is May 10 and the following meeting is July 12 at 9:30 a.m. in Town of Longboat Key Commission Chamber.  Attached is a meeting schedule.  Attached also is a list of 2018 Legislative Priorities.

I will also forward your request to our Board members in the event they would like to share your information with their respective Commissions/Councils or speak with you personally.  Presently, Commissioner Willie Shaw (City of Sarasota) is President of MSLC, Commissioner Carol Carter (City of Anna Maria) is Vice President, and Commissioner Brian Williams (City of Palmetto) is Treasurer. Please let us know if you would like to schedule a presentation.

Gail Loeffler

Administrative Coordinator

ManaSota League of Cities

Town of Longboat Key



To: Commissioner Ed Zunz

Ed, the condition of the beach from Broadway to the tip of Greer Island is the most dire since I starting coming to Longboat in 1977. Clearly whatever the town has done since 1986 has not solved the north and south end erosion problems, and millions of dollars have been spent to repeatedly parch a problem that needs a solution. When I ask the commission to rethink their failed policies in regards to the rapid beach erosion at both ends of the island, their response is that they must listen to the experts.  Clearly, the experts have been unable to solve the erosion problem.

The experts painted a pretty picture of what would result from spending millions of tax dollars to construct two groins at the north end. If anything, and considering the almost continuous renourishing of north end beaches, the groins appear to have had a net negative effect. The attached picture shows a thirty-foot wide strip of sand remaining between the two groins, where the town has repeatedly placed hundreds of thousands of yards of sand over the past few years. I have had one commissioner say that the groins have failed because the town was prevented from constructing a short end-groin near the pass. My reply is then why build two groins that actually have a net negative impact on Greer Island and little to no benefit to other parts of the north end shoreline? Once again the “experts” assured the town that the groins would do wonders for stabilizing the beach profile from Broadway the Northshore Road. That did not happen.

Listening to the “experts” decade after decade, while the north end south end beaches remain depleted year after year, seems to me somewhat analogous to Einstein’s definition of insanity. Clearly, nothing the experts have done has worked, and now the beaches are more in need of repair than at any time over the past forty years.

My suggestion is to disregard what has invariably been grossly inaccurate estimates by the current group of the town;s beach engineers, and seek new solutions from engineering companies that have demonstrated successful shoreline stabilization projects.

Once again, the solution created by an east coast engineering company at Hillsboro Inlet has resulted in a fixed cost solution to shoreline erosion along Deerfield Beach since 1987 with no offshore dredging required since the projects inception. https://floridadep.gov/water/beaches-inlets-ports/documents/hillsboro-inlet-management-study

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key


Sarasota County Mobility Fee Rates – information update

To: Town Commission

As you know, Sarasota County adopted a Mobility Fee collection system in September of 2015.  The Town of Longboat Key agreed to participate in the Mobility Fee system in November 2015.  The county Mobility Fees went into effect January 1, 2016.  Mobility Fees are intended to provide a more flexible funding source for multi-modal transportation improvements than the previous transportation impact fee system.

The county has been exploring opportunities to support Housing Affordability.  One option being considered is additional Mobility Fee rate tiers to support the following housing categories:

Tiny Home (Permanent) defined as, a single family structure less than 500-sq. ft.

Multi-Family (less than 750 sq.ft.)

Micro-Apartment (Less than 500 sq. ft.)

Tiny Home (on Wheels) defined as, less than 200-sq. ft. and other specific provisions

Active Adult 55+

Attached is the draft ordinance under review by county staff.  The draft lists the rates that would be tied to these categories and their respective full definitions.  A public hearing is scheduled for the April 24th 2018 Sarasota County Commission meeting to hear and discuss the proposed ordinance amendment with these additions.  There are no changes to the existing categories or rates.  A rate analysis was provided to the county by NUE Urban Concepts, LLC supporting the new recommended housing types and associated rates.  Public Works has no objection to the additional proposed rates and categories.  There is no action required by the Town.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Longboat Key


Mayor’s Feed the Hungry-Giving Challenge

Mayor George Spoll

Ms. Pearson stopped by Town Hall this morning and dropped off the attached.  She was hoping you will make a short video for the event.

If you are interested in participating, I’m sure our IT can handle making the video or we can get the representative from Studio 26 to do a clip to send in.

Trish Shinkle

Town Clerk

Longboat Key


Redevelopment Workshop Proposed Date: 4/16

To: Town Commission

Commissioners, FYI.  At the March 28 Regular Workshop the Commission asked that we schedule a workshop to discuss redevelopment. As a follow-up to that request we have identified Monday, April 16th at 9am in Town Hall as a tentative date for the meeting.  We are proposing that this be the only item on the agenda.

Based on the Commission’s desire to discuss their individual thoughts on this issue and collectively brainstorm ideas we would not plan on making a presentation at the  beginning of the meeting. Our intent would be to include some relevant background information in the published agenda packet and obviously the staff and Town Attorney would be available to answer questions and participate as requested. At the conclusion of the workshop we will look to the Commission for any follow-up expectations and next steps.

I will bring up the proposed date and format at your Commission Meeting on Monday for confirmation.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key


Non-conforming properties

To: Town Commission

I have reviewed much of the record established over the past 3+ years regarding the resolution of our non-conforming property issue as well as the recent memos by Allen Parsons and Phill Younger on the subject.  After a narrowing of the issues over the first few years of discussion, it seems the subject has broadened more recently, with a variety of views being expressed.  Rather than reacting to any of these, I thought I would just lay out my vision.

Objectives:  My primary objective would be to provide a clear path for owners or developers with properties zoned into non-conformity by the 1980’s downzoning to redevelop, voluntarily or due to storm, to a size and use consistent with LBK’s ambiance and current standards of economics and use.  Given the complexity and expense of any such application, I think it may well be utilized only a handful of times, if that, over the next 10 years. A distant secondary objective would be to afford non-conforming properties a straightforward and economical path to having those properties re-classed as conforming.  Despite some complaints about difficulties in re-financing and the like, I think few if any owners would utilize this tool.

Key Issues:  1.  To identify the proper legal alternative(s) to address either or both objectives.  I believe the central legal analysis to date is embodied in a 12 page opinion prepared for the Town Commission and P&Z Board by Persson & Cohen dated October 26, 2015.  By my reading, the clear message from the opinion was that, while we can and should legislate changes to the Comp Plan and Ordinances to reach our objectives, no change in zoning to any property, including any removal of the non-conforming status of a property, can be effected without a quasi-judicial proceeding with respect to that property.

Based on this opinion, we explored two paths in 2015-16:  The first involved creation of 20+ new zoning districts that would deal with particularity with specific properties and small groups of properties to bring them into compliance and provide some flexibility for redevelopment.  The second path involved creation of Opportunity Areas for non-conforming properties likely to redevelop, in which an owner/developer could apply for a PUD to redevelop his property with flexibility to accommodate current economics and standards but strict quid pro quos to preserve ambience.  The second approach was chosen and resulted in changes to the Comp Plan that were adopted and proposed changes to the Land use Ordinances that were adopted by the P&Z but ultimately tabled by the Commission last Spring.

2.  Whichever legal path is chosen, to identify what if any discretion would be given to an owner, and to the P&Z and Town Commission, to permit flexibility in redevelopment of non-conforming properties beyond their current actual use or their currently permitted use (whichever is less restrictive).  The revised Land Use Ordinance presented in 2016 and tabled in 2017 permitted increased height (initially), footprint, ceiling height, etc. in exchange for concessions on e.g., distance from GOM, vegetation and other buffers, etc.

Key Non-Issue:  Density.  Although all the discussions of our non-conforming issues refer to density (units per acre), and in fact the properties involved are likely all non-conforming as to density,  none of the proposals under consideration would allow any increase in density without a public referendum.  Note:  The earliest proposals under option 1 discussed above (20+ additional zones) did contemplate awarding different sites a few extra units to “prime the pump” for redevelopment, but that proposal was dropped in favor of the PUDs and would have required a referendum to be implemented anyway.

Peripheral Issues:  Many peripheral issues are mentioned in the text and the apocrypha that I believe important but secondary to resolution of the key issues of “legal approach” and “degree of discretion”.  These include:  1.  Conversion of tourism to residential to multi-use or vice versa.  The PUD approach would allow these to be contemplated.  2.  Specifics of flexibility, e.g., can distance from GOM be traded for additional height?  3.  Should the town bear some of the costs of the rezoning/redevelopment process?  (I’m not sure why we should).  4.  Should there be an abbreviated process for an owner seeking to have his property re-classed as “conforming” in the absence of redevelopment?  5.  What procedures should be required of an owner seeking reclassification or redevelopment?

Conclusion:  Putting aside the unique ownership/structure/financial issues that embroiled the Colony project, the system worked in the end.  A creative solution was allowed to proceed, subject to strict rules and conditions, staff scrutiny and public involvement.  A refined version of this process may be just what we need to encourage creative solutions to other redevelopment issues we face on Longboat Key.

Ken Shneier


Longboat Key

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1 Response for “Longboat Key Letters – Week ending April 13, 2018”

  1. Bob Bunting says:

    I want to rebut the letter by Gene Jaleski to Commissioner Ed Zuns regarding the stabilization of the north end of LBK. As a fellow resident, I have no doubt Mr. Jaleski means well. As a scientist, former Lead Forecaster for NOAA and a Director of the corporation that operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research, I don’t think he understands the issues and opportunities of beach and shoreline management.

    The 2 PAG’s on the north end were never meant to be a total solution to the erosion issues there. In fact the proposed groin field included 3 groins one of which was a terminal groin. Because of a lawsuit by a person who doesn’t live on LBK, the third terminal groin was not built and the two existing PAG,s were moved closer together. As a result, the intended protection was not fully realized and awaits a badly needed second step. After years of more erosion than planned, the solution is being adjusted to fully reflect the current need.

    I observe these PAG’s everyday. They have been enormously successful in protecting the beach, homes and infrastructure in their impact area. After 4 years of no maintenance, the beach sand is slowly leaving but that is exactly what is supposed to happen. Instead of having to nourish that high erosion area every year, the nourishment is needed every four years. Not only has this protected property and infrastructure, it has allowed robust recreation activities that were non existent before they were built. The renourishment is due now exactly as expected.

    After tropical storm Debbie in June 2012 the condition of the beach was far worse than it is today and property and infrastructure were being impacted with the risk of serious damage a high probability! Had the PAG’s not been built the shoreline today would be well east of its current location and in my professional opinion, home would have been lost at infrastructure too with the losses far exceeding the cost of mitigation.

    Anna Maria has hardened its shorelines with more than 20 groins over the past 25 years. The north part of LBK is a soft spot that has not been hardened. It is rare to have adjacent barrier islands where one side is hardened and the other is left to absorb the impacts.

    Shoreline erosion has been going on for years and years and it has been increased by many factors inlcuding residential development, Longboat Pass reorientation, Anna Maria coastal hardening, sea level rise of about 8 inches since 1950 and a near shoreline current that changes direction along the north end from one season to another.

    I agree the town needs experts to design and build proper protection along the north end to stabilize the shoreline just like Anna Maria has already done. I believe the town is on the right path and has a viable plan to finish the protection it wanted to complete years ago.

    It is important to understand sand is expensive these days as the demand is high. Protective structures to reduce erosion and lower risk to property and infrastructure also has an added benefit. The sand that would otherwise wash away is retained many times longer. This savings is so substantial it significantely lowers the “life cycle costs” of maintaining LBK’s number one asset…the beaches.

    With a tax base of $6B, LBK can ill afford damage to property and infrastructure that would undermine the confidence of homeowners. If we let the erosion continue new buyers will move to other more protected locations and existing owners may sell. If, for example, the tax base would fall 10% due to a loos in confidence, it would mean a $600,000,000 decrease in tax base.

    The best investment we can make on LBK is protecting our #1 asset. We are not alone in doing so. The protection of shorelines around the country and worldwide have been going on for hundreds of years with good results. Hopefully this track record adds to our communities confidence that we can protect our live style in the unique and beautiful place!

    Greer is an important barrier protecting the north end from Gulf to Bay. Should that barrier be diminished or lost, the risk and cost of protection will rise significantly. The role of government is to protect life and property not just in the event of a disaster but by preventing or mitigating disasters before they happen.
    The town, in my opinion, should continue to work diligently to finish the stabilization of the north end of LBK as soon as possible.

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