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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending May 18, 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.

DRAFT Project Priorities List

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

I’m suggesting we formalize our short list of immediate traffic remedies that we think will be in the final BITS recommendations that FDOT can quickly fund and implement; then submit them for Commission approval that I can recommend to be included in the attached MPO 2018 priorities list.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Costs

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Following up our brief discussions today after reviewing the information I have available, I think it will be helpful, during the Project update at the workshop on Monday that cost breakdowns be provided for the GMD ($25,250,000) and Neighborhood ($23,850,000) projects showing  both the original line item estimates used in support of the approved referendums, compared to our current estimates for each project. That would include line items for Undergrounding; Feeders; Street Lighting; Fiber Optics; contingencies, legal, financing, etc.— I suggest this data will facilitate a better understanding of what flexibility, if any, we have as we consider our options.

Jack Daly

Commissioner, Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Commissioner Daly, thanks for the email. I met with Isaac this morning to go over his plans for the undergrounding update on Monday.  He will touch on the budgets for both projects and the staff can discuss flexibility at the meeting. Understanding that there is some question about funding for a decorative solution for the neighborhoods, Isaac pointed out the attached slide from the January 22, 2018 Commission Workshop.  The staff believes there is adequate funding for a decorative option if the Commission makes a decision to proceed in that manner.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Costs

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks, Tom. Recognizing the ongoing discussions with FPL with respect to GMD lighting, can you provide similar relative cost options for GMD.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Non-conforming uses

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer, Public Works Director Allen Parsons

I was disappointed by Monday’s workshop concerning non-conforming uses on Longboat Key.  The issue remains how to address the 100+ tourism and multi-family properties rendered non-conforming by the 1980’s down-zoning.  Many of these properties, like the Colony,  are 45-50 years old, are becoming unsuitable to current housing or tourism needs, and cannot be viably redeveloped under our current zoning laws, either voluntarily or in the event of a storm.

While our entire zoning code is due for an overhaul, it was decided over 3 years ago that addressing non-conformities was both urgent and would help focus our attention on core issues of how to move our island forward.  This would then inform our larger task of revising the code in its entirety.  As you know, an ordinance addressing these issues was drafted, debated by the Planning and Zoning Board and the Town Commission, revised, passed 7-0 by the Planning Board, and then tabled by the Commission last year while the Colony project took center stage.

In returning to this effort in recent months, I’m afraid we may now be walking backwards.  While no consensus was reached on anything at Monday’s meeting, strenuous arguments were made that the path we have moved along for 3 years (to allow non-conforming properties some strictly circumscribed flexibility to redevelop with adjusted height and volume), should no longer be our benchmark.  In effect, we should start over.  It was also suggested that we may not be able to address the problem of non-conforming uses at all outside of a wholesale revision of our zoning code.  This would not happen quickly.

On Monday, I passed out a 1 1/2 page memo with bullet points intended to focus our discussion on specific elements of a plan to move this discussion forward.  Another copy is attached.  While the memo contains concepts from last year’s proposed ordinance, it is much shorter and it makes key changes, such as removal of “planned unit developments” from the menu of solutions.  Given the many important issues the Commission needs to address this year, I hope this memo can be a vehicle to get our redevelopment use discussion back on track.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

General Principles for Redevelopment of Nonconforming Uses

To: Town Commission

Available only for voluntary or involuntary redevelopment of properties rendered non-conforming by 1980’s downzoning.

Available only to non-conforming tourism or multi-family uses in excess of one acre.  Tourism use may only apply to remain a tourism use.  Multi-family use may apply to remain multi-family or to convert to tourism or mixed tourism and multi-family use.

If re-zoning is determined to be required (despite Ord. Secs. 158.139 and 158.140), create a future land use area for all eligible properties called, e.g., Non-conforming Use Redevelopment Area (NURA).  The owner of an eligible property may request re-zoning into the NURA along with an outline development plan or final site plan.  Approval would be subject to all usual standards for a re-zoning in addition to standards set for any increased dimensions.

Density (number of units) may not exceed the greater of existing or permitted density on the site without a referendum.

Height may not exceed the greater of existing or permitted (by current code) height on the site; provided that an owner may request increased height of up to 65 total feet, so long as other “redevelopment site standards” are met; and provided further that any allowed height shall exclude height required to meet flood plain elevation regulations.

Cubic volume of structures may not exceed the greater of existing or permitted (by current code) cubic volume on the site; provided that an owner may request 10%/15% cubic volume in excess of that otherwise allowed, so long as other “redevelopment site standards” are met; and provided further that any allowed cubic volume shall exclude (a) height required to meet flood plain elevation requirements, and (b) additional areas or volumes required by law for elevators, stairs, landings, mechanical areas, walkways and the like.

Setbacks may not be less than the lesser of existing or permitted (by current code) setbacks for all structures and dimensions on the site; provided that, in the case of any request for height greater than height existing or permitted on the site (up to 65 feet), the front yard setback from the road to the tallest structure shall be no less than twice the total proposed height of the tallest structure.

An applicant seeking height and/or cubic volume greater than that existing or permitted (by current code), shall demonstrate to the Town Commission’s reasonable satisfaction that the project is compatible with surrounding properties; is consistent with the character of the surrounding area; does not impair scenic views from adjacent properties or corridors from the street; does not materially increase shadows on adjacent properties, the street or the beach;  where possible, favors parking beneath structures; provides substantial buffers and screening from adjacent streets, neighbors and waterways; maximizes open area; and is otherwise consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Plan.  Where these “redevelopment site standards” are found to be met, the Town Commission may also grant waivers from open area ratio, floor area ratio and similar dimensional requirements.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key 

   

Tides on a sunny day

To: Lynn Larson, Public Works Director Allen Parsons

Reviewing our seawall at high tides the last couple days were the usual or typical for this moon cycle. My gauge is a lower dock section that floods on exception, it did not the last couple days.

Ned Jewett

Longboat Key

 

Tides on a sunny day

To: Public Works Director Allen Parsons

The picture shows an example of the canal water inches from the top of the cap of a new seawall built to the current code and an original seawall where water reached the top of the cap that is close to 60 years old.  It is almost high tide.  This is a calm day, no high winds, no storm, no full moon. You can understand that the seawall could be covered by water if a storm, wind, full moon, or king tide occurred and this does happen.  I understand that seawalls hold land and do not prevent water from entering the property but if they are over washed by water, can they be compromised?

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

500 Buttonwood

To: Town Commission

In late January, 2018 the developer of 500 Buttonwood Drive illegally moved forward with clearing the site.  After 10 days of unsafe work he knocked out the power and cable for all of Buttonwood and damaged the adjoining property at 600 Buttonwood Drive.  Through a series of discussions with the Town on February 15 and 16 the HOA of Buttonwood filed a complaint with the Town.  The Town shut down the builder to discontinue the illegal site clearing.  Since that time the neighbors of Buttonwood have regularly communicated with the Building Department and the Town Manager.  The Building Official removed the stop work order to allow the developer to clean up the site because it is a “Health, Welfare and Safety” issue.  That was done in March, 2018.  To date, the health, welfare and safety issue still exists and the builder has made no attempt to clean up the site, but he did remove the Mangrove trees he killed in his earlier tree removal, though they were supposed to remain on the property.

The neighborhood is well aware this is supposed to be a construction zone, but it is not a construction site.  It is abandoned.  The developer has boring reports and he may well have learned what other developers knew when they chose to walk away from this property without purchasing it — it is going to require a great deal of muck to be removed and dirt to be brought in to bring this site to a “pad ready condition”.  Meanwhile, the adjoining homeowners face their driveway eroding away because of the poor condition of the 500 Buttonwood site.  The entire neighborhood faces the unsightly site entering and exiting the neighborhood every day.

This is a health, welfare and safety issue.  There has been no attempt by the developer to resolve the problem in 14 weeks.  Mr. Brown seemed to think that the neighborhood should recognize this is a construction site.  It is not a construction site.  They have no plans approved.  They have done no work to make the site pad ready.  They have NEVER met with the neighborhood to address the problems.  They did not even have silt fence installed until the neighborhood demanded it (and most of it is not installed correctly).  There is still rubbish stacked along Buttonwood Drive with no silt fence.

The Town required a 6-foot fence to be placed around the unsafe property at the Colony.  The neighborhood has requested a similar fence to surround this site and that has not been done.  The Code Enforcement Officer has given the developer a “courtesy notice” and allowed the developer another grace period with no penalty.  Citizens with unkept lawns do not receive 5 months of grace periods and neither should this developer.

BJ Bishop

Longboat Key

 

500 Buttonwood

To: Kyle Adams

We, as a neighborhood, and me as the chair of the Planning and Zoning Board are beyond frustrated with the toxic site that has been left at 500 Buttonwood for 14 weeks.  Timely resolution has long since passed.  Four weeks ago we requested a 6-foot fence between the Maxson’s home and this mess and no one has moved forward to provide this.

Today I met with the Town Commission and Town Manager to address this mess and ask for Immediate Resolution of the unsafe condition of 500 Buttonwood.  I have received promises for months that the developer is moving forward.  That continues to not happen.  I urge the Town to move forward with enforcement of code violations.  The taxpayers deserve this, not the mess at 500 Buttonwood.

BJ Webb

Longboat Key

 

Short Term Rentals and New Street Lighting

To: Town Commission

I am a resident of Longboat Key and have served as medical director of Sarasota County EMS (including Longboat Key Fire Rescue) for thirty-four years.  Please allow me to express my opinion on two issues facing the commission:

First, I hope you will support enforcement of the Town’s short-term rental ordinance.  I love my home and my community.  However, my right to quiet enjoyment of my property is interfered with on a near-daily basis by short-term occupancy of the home across our canal.  The home is owned by an interval owner group of investors.  These owners can and do occupy the residence on a short-term basis.  The result is that, almost every week, a new group of occupants arrive.  Some groups are quiet and courteous, some are not.  The point is, however, that this is against the ordinance.

We have complained to Chris Elbon, Compliance Officer, several times in the past.  The problem with enforcement is the man-hours of work it would take to document each short-term rental and subsequently notify the interval ownership group that it is in violation of the ordinance.  It would be so much easier just to cite the occupants with a violation and require payment of escalating fines for each infraction.  I am certain this would promptly stop short-term infraction.

Second, we have paid the assessments for buried utilities on Gulf of Mexico Drive and for Yawl Lane in full.  As you are aware, current street lights are unattractive and dated.  We understand that for approximately $2,000 more per light, decorative street lights could be installed.  Please use your influence with the Town not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  You are spending millions of dollars for underground utilities.  Please take this opportunity to produce a result that we can be proud of…let’s keep Longboat Key special.  Install decorative, high-quality lighting. Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions.

Steven R. Newman, M.D., F.A.C.E.P.

Medical Director, Sarasota County EMS

Longboat Key

 

To: Dr. Steve Newman

We appreciate it when specific violations of our short term lease ordinances are brought to the town’s attention and thank you for doing so.  I join in Commissioner Daly’s accurate response to your concerns and take particular notice of your reference to the owners of the property as being an “interval ownership group”.  If you provide the address of the property our attorney can look into the specific details of the ownership arrangement, its conformity in a residential neighborhood, and what type of occupancy it would permit.   

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Short Term Rentals and New Street Lighting

To: Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale

Would you please look into this?

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Dr. Steve Newman

Thank you Steven for your comments. The Commission is currently in the process of approving new citation procedures in the very near future, which will enable much improved enforcement of, among other regulations, our short term rental regulations as you suggest. With respect to street lighting included in the undergrounding projects, we are also currently evaluating the lighting options as we obtain more refined project cost estimates;  and with respect to GMD , negotiate with FPL. Monthly Updates on these projects are provided by the Town Staff to the Commission during public meetings wherein all residents can attend and present their views. I urge you to do so.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Short Term Rentals and New Street Lighting

To: Commissioner Ed Zunz

I am a resident of Longboat Key and have served as medical director of Sarasota County EMS (including Longboat Key Fire Rescue) for thirty-four years.  Please allow me to express my opinion on two issues facing the commission:

First, I hope you will support enforcement of the Town’s short-term rental ordinance.  I love my home and my community.  However, my right to quiet enjoyment of my property is interfered with on a near-daily basis by short-term occupancy of the home across our canal.  The home is owned by an interval owner group of investors.  These owners can and do occupy the residence on a short-term basis.  The result is that, almost every week, a new group of occupants arrive.  Some groups are quiet and courteous, some are not.  The point is, however, that this is against the ordinance.

We have complained to Chris Elbon, Compliance Officer, several times in the past.  The problem with enforcement is the man-hours of work it would take to document each short-term rental and subsequently notify the interval ownership group that it is in violation of the ordinance.  It would be so much easier just to cite the occupants with a violation and require payment of escalating fines for each infraction.  I am certain this would promptly stop short-term infraction.

Second, we have paid the assessments for buried utilities on Gulf of Mexico Drive and for Yawl Lane in full.  As you are aware, current street lights are unattractive and dated.  We understand that for approximately $2,000 more per light, decorative street lights could be installed.  Please use your influence with the Town not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  You are spending millions of dollars for underground utilities.  Please take this opportunity to produce a result that we can be proud of…let’s keep Longboat Key special.  Install decorative, high-quality lighting.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions.

Steven R. Newman, M.D., F.A.C.E.P.

Medical Director, Sarasota County EMS

Longboat Key

 

Unattractive street lights

To: Commissioner Ed Zunz

The whole reason the commission said we needed fifty-five million dollar undergrounding was to beautify the island. Safety and service were red Herring issues tacked on to the scheme. Let’s not have cheap light poles that are make beautification a joke.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Short-term rentals

To: Gene Jaleski

Gene, We are in the process of creating a magistrate process that will permit issuance of on the spot citations to all offending participants in a short-term rental violation.  That should be far more effective than our current code enforcement methodology.

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

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