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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending June 1, 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.

Non-conforming Longboat properties

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer, Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

Thanks to Allen and Staff for preparing the May 24 memo on quick turn-around and to Maggie for her legal insights. A few advance thoughts to get the ball rolling on Monday:

Certifications:  While I still don’t think many owners will avail themselves of this process to eliminate the stigma of non-conformity, it remains a very good idea to accomplish that purpose and, maybe more importantly, to record existing uses in detail in the event of a storm.  A few issues:  1.  Has this process been used successfully anywhere else?  2.  What is the actual “legal” effect of a certification?  Could a property destroyed in a storm rebuild in accordance with a certification over objections from neighboring owners?  3.  As to a specific property, who would initiate the process, how elaborate (expensive) would it be, and who would pay for it?

Non-Conforming Properties Inventory:  This is also a very good idea and should be executed so as to coordinate with the certification process discussed above.  The two stages make perfect sense.

Taller and Shorter Buildings:  Counsel’s memo hammers home the Bert Harris Act point, which Staff seems to have addressed and eliminated with the language “inclusive of allowances to meet habitable floor elevation requirements” in the “taller buildings” section.  Eliminating the right to add a flood zone floor seems unnecessary and unwise.   Counsel’s lengthy citations from our redevelopment ordinance, however, underscores the more serious point of how unworkable the redevelopment section is and, maybe, why it has remained unused for 10 years.  More importantly, why would an owner rebuild a high-rise or a low-rise knowing it would remain a non-conforming use?  I think these remain the key questions for us.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Pickleball without ‘spin’

To: Dr. Stanley Minken

I have no position requiring spin. I am a citizen. My experience informs my opinion about Town resources and user participation, especially for something that has engendered such admirable passion so quickly.  When in office, I always guarded against saying “people on Longboat can afford it.”

From what I see, the current Commission is in sympathy with the goal of having more courts. Please work with them responsibly, avoid the urge to stampede them, and honor their responsibility of safeguarding the Town’s resources for all citizens.

Terry Gans

Longboat Key

 

Pickleball comment full of ‘spin’

To: Town Commission

Mr. Gans has described, in eloquent verse, the typical administrative spin we have come to expect from our political friends. I fully understand that his job requires thoughtful consideration before advising the elected body. I take no personal issue with him. I would only ask that he consider the entire body of this discussion and its future impact on the overall recreational outlook of our community.

If we are to remain attractive we must remain synchronous with the changing times and environment we live in. Longboat surely has an adequate existing tax base to fund a few pickleball courts.

Dr. Stan Minken

Longboat Key

 

Articles referenced…

To: Town Commission

At the request of a Commissioner, attached is an article regarding the roundabout in the May 25th edition of the Longboat Key News referenced in Mrs. Walker’s correspondence to Mayor Spoll (see below). I was not able to confirm the letter to the editor regarding Lido Shores, however, I located the attached e-mail to Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin which may be the correspondence from the president of the Lido Shores Property Owners Association referenced by Mrs. Walker. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Trish Granger

Town Clerk

Longboat Key

 

Longboat and Lido residents’ ideas unrealistic and late

To: Editor

Two stories appeared in the Sarasota City News on May 25, 2018. One, Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly complained about traffic in Sarasota and its impact demanding additional routing changes. Two, Lido Shores Property Owners Association President Mr. Lynn Carvel demanded immediate action to rectify loss of beach by Mother Nature was belligerent in a letter to the editor. Sarasota City residents resent Longboat Key or Lido Shore residents dictating stipulations outside of their jurisdictions. Both are unrealistic and late, where have both gentleman been for the last four years when both issues first became known? Neither offered concrete solutions. Longboat Key beachgoers will have gridlock until a third bridge is constructed. Mr. Daly should have championed this cause if Longboat Key wants a genuine solution. Not one commissioner of any jurisdiction has. No one is planning for a bridge. Both Lynn and Jack had a choice to reside in their tony wealthy enclaves and million dollar homes knowing full well the few challenges living on the keys present. Traffic and sand is in the hand of our Lord. Middle class Sarasota residents are not willing to pay greater taxes to fix sand problems nor inconvenience our neighborhood traffic patterns. The non-wealthy city residents are worried about checks, rent, schools, tuitions, mortgages, kids, jobs, church and overwhelming, burdensome property taxes which will greatly escalate again once residents have to pay for the $50 million lost “garage fiasco” lawsuit that impacts 50,000 city citizens not 190 on Lido Shores or 2,500 full-time Longboat Key residents. Both sand and traffic groups will have to spend their personal money, taxpayers are not going to willingly pay. Stopping runaway Sarasota government spending and increasing taxes will be a major election issue in the face of commissioner and bureaucratic incompetence.

Bridgette Walker

Sarasota

Editor’s Note: To clarify the issue of ‘jurisdiction’ as raised in Ms. Walker’s letter, Lido Shores is within the municipal limits of the City of Sarasota. Also, the roundabout mentioned will be built at the juncture of U.S. 41 and SR 789, which is a point of access for Longboat Key, Lido, Bird Key, and St. Armands.

To: Bridgette Walker

My suggestion reported in the Longboat Key News, Sarasota City News article that was referred to about the Ringling Bridge U.S. 41 intersection, if ultimately accepted by FDOT, could avoid expending the planned $4.2 million for a new roundabout. Simply stated, my position was correctly reported, that by completing the current configuration at the intersection, including the continuous right turn lane onto Fruitville Rd, and evaluating the actual traffic improvement during the next peak season, that such might well out- perform the proposed roundabout, and thereby avoid the need for its construction. In sum, a proposed solution, without an additional cost.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Short-term rental requirements and non-permitted construction activities

To: Town Commission

I am writing in reference to your April 30th memorandum, which was distributed at the last Code Enforcement Board meeting. I hope to see you at the June Eleventh meeting of that board.

The town commission is considering better enforcement of the existing Town Code regarding short-term rental requirements and non-permitted construction activities. I am fully supportive of those efforts.

But how is better enforcement to be achieved? The Town’s current Code Enforcement Board considers violations that occur outside the home—yards, swimming pools, or vacant land, for example. The problems are usually in plain sight and can be documented for extended time duration.

Rental and construction violations occur inside the home or on common properties. These activities are inherently sporadic and concealed. Trolling websites for potential violations is helpful, but won’t provide sufficient deterrence. I think enforcement inside homes will require more Town personnel or redeployment of existing personnel. Enforcement may also raise legal issues.

Homeowners and their associations will need new incentives to comply. When violations occur, violators’ names and names of their Home Owner Associations should be published for the widest possible distribution. Realtors will pick up this information and it will become another marketing tool.  HOAS may find that adverse publicity hurts sales and legitimate rentals. They will self-police.

For new buyers, inspections of home condition are routine. But for common properties, studies of condition are the province of HOAS. Buyers often must rely on just one piece of information, the size of the HOA’s reserves—by itself an incomplete picture.

For planning purposes the Town should require timely engineering reports on HOAS’ common property condition. If this requirement seems too prescriptive, a second best would be to strongly recommend such engineering studies.  Some HOAS will comply; some won’t. Then let publicity and the real estate market sort out their value.

For every law the ideal is voluntary compliance. These steps would nudge everyone towards that goal.

Thomas H. Jones

Longboat Key

Ranger Lane junk pile

To: Bob Gault

Randy is going to add trash can removal and out on certain days at the next commission meeting. There is no ordinance now regarding when the trash cans can be out. I called the town and spoke with staff who could not find anything in our codes and told me to call waste management. I reported other infractions to code enforcement, left a message for callback, no response. All these objects can be missiles in storm season and especially when we have a storm in the box. We need a list of who is putting trash out early or leaving cans out. The board will sign a letter to those people citing the hazard they are creating for themselves and neighbors. The pile of junk should have been addressed by Code Enforcement with the storm. Randy do we need more staff or better enforcement in view of storm potential? We need a list of who is leaving the cans out or putting them out early.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

Ranger Lane junk pile

To: Lynn Larson

I sent a note to Code Enforcement today regarding 591 leaving a pile of junk on the street on Thursday…still there. Even an artificial Christmas tree, old lounge pad, window screen, wood chest that fell apart, wet card board and trash can. Third world! Also, told Code Enforcement that this house continually leaves their two trash cans in the drive way full time. Don’t know if there is an ordinance against that but there sure should be! How many people driving around looking for houses see that mess and turn around and head for Bird Key or wherever?

Bob Gault

Longboat Key

Ranger Lane

To: Commissioner Randy Clair

The owners of 591 Ranger are supposed to move or have moved. I saw a moving truck this week and the house looks empty.

Emmanuel Charron

Longboat Key

Ranger Lane junk

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom I wish to discuss this subject with you at our next meeting.

Randy Clair

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Ranger Lane

To: Commissioner Randy Clair

Thanks for the email. Will add to our agenda to discuss.

FYI- I saw a copy of the email early this morning and forwarded it to Code Enforcement.  They indicated that they had not received previously.  They did go out and inspect the property this morning and advised there currently is no violation.

I listed below a provision in our current code that may relate to the concern.

95.25 (E).  “All containers for junk, solid waste, yard waste and recycling, placed within the public right of way or within five feet of the public right of way, shall be removed or otherwise effaced from public view within 48 hours of placement.”

I will be following up on what happened with the initial request and communication with the staff.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

Emergency Demolition Order for Former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort

To: Town Commission

FYI- see below regarding the status of demolition efforts for structures located at the former Colony site.  An update regarding this action is also scheduled for the June 4th Regular Commission Meeting.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

Emergency Demolition Order for Former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

For upcoming situational awareness, I wanted to be sure the Commission and Town staff were advised that the Town is proceeding with an Emergency Demolition order for the majority of the structures located at the former Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, in accordance with Section 150.21(J) of the Town of Longboat Key (“Town”) Code of Ordinances. We are working diligently to have this Order sent out on May 31st.  In preparation for the several-hundred individual, signed & notarized copies that are required to be sent out, the Planning, Zoning & Building Department will generally be unavailable to customers for meetings, permit processing/issuing and plans review tomorrow, May 30th in order for all PZB staff to assist with mailing preparations. We will have limited Front Desk staff to handle permit intake and phone calls. We have notified contractors of this temporary inconvenience.

This Emergency Demolition action follows an extended process that included an initial Notice of Unfit and Unsafe Structures finding by the Town’s Building Official beginning in October 2017, wherein the majority of the individual unit owners were provided opportunities to correct the unsafe and/or unfit structure conditions.  Unit owners were provided notice that failure to correct the unsafe or unfit conditions would result the structures being subject to abatement as provided for in Section 105.21 of the Town Code.

In cases where there is imminent danger to the public health, safety, or welfare, or immediate danger to the life or safety of any person, or where the public or their property is endangered by wind, storm, fire, or other natural disasters, or where a structure is in imminent danger of collapse from structural decay, the Building Official shall promptly cause such structure or equipment to be made safe or cause its removal. On April 25, 2018, the Building Official and Fire Marshal conducted an inspection of the structures at the former Colony Beach and Tennis Resort located at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.  The inspection confirmed that the structures pose an imminent danger to the public health, safety, and welfare, are an immediate danger to the life or safety of any person, endanger the public and their property by wind, storm, fire, or other natural disasters, and are in imminent danger of collapse from structural decay.

The Town Building Official and Fire Marshal have expressed concern relating to the condition of the structures on the site and the ability of the structures to withstand another Hurricane Season.  Hurricane Season extends from June 1, 2018 – November 30, 2018.  As of the date of this email, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) has indicated that based upon the hurricane activity that occurred in 2017, they are predicting another active Atlantic hurricane season for 2018.

As a result of the unsafe, unfit and/or dangerous condition of the structures and the impending 2018 Hurricane Season, the Town Building Official and Fire Marshal are providing written notification of an Emergency Demolition Order (“Order”) to the affected owners of record.

The Order will identify the structures that are subject to demolition.  All of the buildings are unoccupied, and have been deemed unsafe, unfit and/or dangerous by the Town’s Building Official pursuant to Town Code and the Florida Building Code, as applicable. This Order recognizes that the condition(s) of the structure(s) pose a life safety issue to the citizens of the Town and must be demolished. Pursuant to the Town Code, once the Order is issued and following a 10-day appeal period[1], the Building Official and Fire Marshal shall authorize the demolition and removal of the noticed structures and shall utilize independent contractors licensed in the State of Florida to complete the demolition and removal of the structures.  The Order indicates that the Town will proceed with the demolition of the structure(s) on or after June 15, 2018.

Pursuant to Town Code, the Building Official shall also assess the entire cost of boarding up or securing, demolition, removal, asbestos abatement, sodding or seeding of the lot, vegetative landscaping, rodent and/or pest extermination, and any other costs associated with abatement of the unsafe or unfit conditions against the real property in the form of a lien recorded in the public records of Sarasota County. To the extent permitted by applicable law, this lien shall be superior to all others except property taxes and shall include all administrative costs, including but not limited to expert reports or assessments, postal expenses, the cost of newspaper publications, and similar expenses incurred by the Town.

On June 4th staff will be providing an informational status update to the Commission on this action.  Please let me know if I can provide anything further.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

Weather Update

To: Town Commission

See latest update below. Some good news this afternoon with the increased dry weather within the storm there are reduced rainfall and flood projections. We will continue to monitor the track and potential impact.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

Tropical Storm Alberto

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Due to the dry air within Alberto, it has reduced the rain fall that we have and will experience as he moves north.  The strongest winds will be within the rain bands which we will experience but not as intense as forecasted.  Rain and flood threat have been reduced.  Gusts of 65 m.p.h. were recorded at 8 a.m. at the buoy 20 miles off LBK in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are still high rip currents along the coast and swimmers should use extreme caution.  We do not advocate citizens swimming in the Gulf as the waters are dangerous.

We continue to be in constant communication with Manatee and Sarasota County Emergency Operation Centers and are ensuring we provide the most accurate and appropriate information for LBK.

I appreciate everyone’s attention during this “operation” as we continue to be in a readiness status.

I will provide further updates as necessary and if there are any issues of concerns please contact me.

Paul B. Dezzi

Fire Chief

Longboat Key Fire Rescue

Weather Update

To: Commissioner Ed Zunz

Thank you for the note-agree. Staff did a good job preparing. We will continue to monitor through the long weekend.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

Weather update

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks to you and Paul for all the updates. It looks like we may have dodged another bullet.   

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Solar lights

To: Bob Goodman

Sorry for the delayed response to your update on the private road and the usage of solar lighting. I just returned from being out of town and catching up with all my correspondence. I’m sure that Mayor Spoll as well as myself will discuss and investigate solar lighting as a possible alternative solution. Thanks for offering your assistance.

Irwin Pastor

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

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