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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending June 15, 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.

Traffic signs are too numerous

To: Editor

It’s not the commercial signage that is ugly, distracting and overdone. It’s the traffic/road signs — they’re way too numerous and redundant. The crosswalks with signs and yellow lights are rarely used — they are quite a distance apart (I am not suggesting that they be more numerous or closer) and a yellow light is not a stop light. That is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Jane Oaks

Longboat Key

 

Colony demolition

To: Town Commission

The purpose of this email is to provide summarize yesterday’s hearing in the above referenced cases challenging the Town’s Emergency Demolition Orders issued for certain structures on the Colony property.   Plaintiffs, Colony Beach Investors LLC, Sheldon and Carol Rabin, Lillian and Jonathan Jagid and Gordon and Sandra Bratter, et al challenged the Town’s Emergency Orders and filed 2 lawsuits in the Sarasota Circuit Court that sought emergency declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the demolition of the following buildings on the Colony site:  the Vagabond, Beachview, Beachcomber and Lanai.  The 2 separately filed cases were joined by the Court. Judge Hunter Carroll presided over the cases.

I am pleased to report that the Plaintiffs’ Motions for Injunctive Relief (filed in both cases) were denied by Judge Carroll yesterday evening at 9:45 pm following a 5 ½ hour hearing.   A copy of the Order denying the Plaintiffs’ requests is attached.

The Plaintiffs called Sheldon Rabin (by phone), Andy Adams, Manfred Welfonder, and Engineer Jody Young as witnesses in support of the Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief.  Stan Dinwoodie (Building Official), Lou Gagliardi (Fire Marshal), Pete Cumming (Police Chief) and Larry Stritzel (Lighthouse Prop. Management, the Management Company for the Colony property) appeared as witnesses for the Town.

After hearing all evidence and testimony, the Court explained its reasoning for denying the Plaintiffs’ requested relief through its oral ruling.  The Court recognized that the burden of proof in the filed actions is on the Plaintiffs, and the Plaintiffs had to prove:  (1) a likelihood of success on the merits, (2) irreparable harm, (3) no adequate remedy at law, and (4) that the public interest will be served by stopping the demolition of those buildings.  The Court found that the Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof because they did not satisfy elements 1 and 4, set forth above.  Specifically, the Court found that Section 150.21 of the Town Code provided adequate criteria and due process in the demolition proceedings.  The Court also found that the Town had properly exercised its police power authority in ordering the demolition to protect against “imminent dangers” from the site and the buildings.  The Court stated that its decision was based upon the following evidence presented at the hearing:

• the partial collapse of portions of 2 structures at issue,

• termite infestation,

• rodent and vermin infestation,

• the potential fire hazard from the site,

• evidence of trespassers on the site and in the buildings despite the fencing that was erected to prevent such access,

• the frequency the Town’s police reports detailing trespassing incidents,

• the lack of water, power and sewer on the property,

• firefighter safety concerns as firefighters have been ordered not to enter the structures out of concern for their safety, and

• the evidence of people slipping and falling on the site.

The Court specifically found that the Town was acting in the public interest in pursuing the Emergency Demolition Orders and that the public interest outweighed the Plaintiffs’ private interests which focused on preserving 4 particular buildings on the site.   

Stan Dinwoodie, Lou Gagliardi and Pete Cummings provided  critical witness testimony at today’s hearing.  They detailed their respective observations and professional opinions,  and the various life and safety concerns the Town was addressing through the condemnation/demolition proceedings.  In addition to the witness testimony, there was a great deal of work and effort “behind the scenes” by other Town Staff leading up to the issuance of the demolition orders and hearing. Accordingly, I want to acknowledge everyone at Town Hall and particularly in the PZB Department for all of their efforts leading up to these proceedings.  It was a tremendous team effort to get to this point and Tom and Allen did a great job leading the team through this process.

Finally, I also want to thank the Town’s special counsel, Art Hardy and Martin Garcia of the Matthews Eastmoore law firm, for all of their hard work, litigation preparation, and advocacy on the Town’s behalf in these proceedings.  They had a limited period of time to prepare for yesterday’s emergency hearing, and Art and Martin skillfully flew into action. They did an outstanding job defending the Town’s fundamental policy objective of protecting the people and property within the Town of Longboat Key.

As with any litigation, the Plaintiffs will have the right to appeal the Court’s decision. It is unclear at this time whether they will choose to do so.  I will keep you posted on any developments in this regard.  In the meantime, Town Staff is preparing to move forward with engaging the services of qualified contractor(s) to perform the demolition work on the Colony site.   

Should any of you have any questions regarding this summary, or if you would wish to discuss yesterdays hearing in greater detail, please do not hesitate to call me.

Maggie Mooney-Portale

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

Pickleball follow up

To: Town Commission

During the 1st Budget Workshop we discussed the status of the Pickle Ball expansion project.  There were a couple of follow-up items discussed.  See a quick update from Isaac below on our discussions with the Temple and the Post Office. We are continuing to follow-up.

1. Temple Beth Israel is not interested in selling the property they use for overflow parking at this time.

2. The Temple is open to and interested in working out a joint (shared) parking arrangement.

3. The Post Office has no plans of downsizing the property and believes the land size is adequate for current operation.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

TC SWS Consensus Summary

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer, Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale, Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

I did not have a chance to study this outline of consensus from our June 4 meeting until it appeared in yesterday’s Longboat Key News.  As the 3 proposed goals and options in the outline were mine, I wanted to offer one small but important clarification:  “Goal 3”, as written below, only restates the notion in “Goal 2” that a redeveloping property would (use best efforts to) meet the standards required for its current zone.  My original proposal for Goal 3 was that the result of redevelopment of any non-conforming property would be a fully conforming use and structure, regardless of which option for redevelopment was chosen.  The significance of this difference is that an owner opting to redevelop under the “floating zone” mechanism would be legally conforming without meeting current zone standards for its district. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for your attention to this.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

TC SWS Consensus Summary

To: Town Commission

As requested, see summary below from this mornings workshop.  This is in addition to the certification program and the update existing conditions inventory that was discussed and staff is working on.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

TC SWS Consensus Summary

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Sharing the final Commission consensus notes that were taken at this morning’s Redevelopment Workshop.

Overall Intent for Addressing Non-Conforming Density Redevelopment: Preserve Density | Redevelopment to Be Conforming With Zone District Standards

Goals for Non-Conforming Redevelopment

Goal 1- No New Density Allowed

Goal 2- Any Redevelopment Would Use Best Efforts to Meet Zone Districts

Goal 3- Use and Structures, in any Redevelopment, would meet Zone District Standards

Options For Non-Conforming Redevelopment

Option 1: Redevelop to Existing Extents (+ FEMA) (i.e. no additional Cubic Content)

Option 2- Redevelop via Meeting Zone District Standards (allow additional Cubic Content)

Option 3- Redevelop Under New “Floating Zone District” (Details to be developed via PZB Review/Input) (allow additional Cubic Content)

Option 3 (i.e. New Floating Zone District) Goals:

Reduce Non-Conforming Height

Conform Redevelopment to Zone District Standards to the Greatest Extent Possible

Allow Development Flexibility (including building heights greater than allowed in underlying zone district):

When redevelopment may not meet zone district standards; due to site constraints, or market demonstration can be made.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Longboat Key 

 

Tourist Tax/Sarasota County- Interlocal Agreement

To: Town Commission

Our Interlocal Agreement with Sarasota County for allocation of Tourism Tax (TDT) funds expires on September 30th. It is a 10-year Agreement and provides funding towards our beach re-nourishment efforts and also provides funding to offset our beach maintenance costs.  The current formula is more favorable to the Town than the straight population calculation and in 2014 an additional contribution was added that provided the additional funding support for beach maintenance. In 2017 the Town received $496,561.

The Tourism Development Council (TDC) met this afternoon and recommended that the agreement be renewed for another 10 years. As you are aware, Commissioner Schneier represents the Commission on the TDC.

The agreement will be scheduled for the Town Commission and County Commission’s consideration at an upcoming meeting.

I have been advised that our Interlocal Agreement with Manatee County also expires on September 30th. The staff is following up with the County on the status of that renewal.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Post Office Appearance

To: Town Commission

Gentlemen, I asked the LBK Post Office Manager and the previous Town Manager, over a year ago, about planting around the redone Post Office sign and grounds. Frankly, the grounds look like heck to be polite. I was told we’re on it. No luck.

Given the Commission is looking into code updates this is a good example where we need help protecting the beauty of our special island. As you know the Post Office is frequented by residents and visitors often.

A low ground cover like Portulaca, for example, is draught tolerant, blooms year round and would is very inexpensive. Thanks for looking into this eye sore. (Pix from today below).

Bob Gault

Longboat Key

 

FDOT RoadWatch Advisory: US 41 from Browning Street to 11th Street in Sarasota County

To: Town Commission

FYI, see update on the turn lane and construction timing at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

  

FDOT RoadWatch Advisory: US 41 from Browning Street to 11th Street in Sarasota County

To: Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

Per the project manager, the right-turn lane and drainage work on US 41 at Fruitville Road is expected to be complete June 22, weather permitting. Project completion is expected at the end of this month, also weather permitting.

JoAnn May

Communications Specialist

Florida Department of Transportation

 

FDOT RoadWatch Advisory: US 41 from Browning Street to 11th Street in Sarasota County

To: Corinne Tucker and JoAnn May

Thank you for the update below from April this year.  I was wondering if you could give me the latest status update and expected completion of the long-awaited northbound right-turn lane improvements to the U.S. 41 at Fruitville Road intersection.  The email below indicated it would be a two-week construction duration, but the work has now extended into June; it looks like the contractor still has a fair amount of drainage work to do due to the impoundment of water at that location.  Can you provide a revised status?  I would like to send to our Town commission, who requested the information as well.

Any information on status and updated estimate of completion would be greatly appreciated.

Isaac Brownman

Director Town of Longboat Key Public Works

Longboat Key

 

Information Sharing

To: Town Commission

As we continue to look at ways to enhance our communications with our residents and visitors we have recently added a couple of new methods of helping share information.

We have activated a Town Twitter account (@TownofLBK). We are using that account to share news and information about the Town.  One of the things we learned during Hurricane Irma was the benefits of using Twitter to help share information with the news media so they can help then share the information to a broader and audience and include some of that information in their more traditional media venues.  It is also obviously available to the public for those that are active on social media.

We have also added a new “Town Manager Briefs” link on the home page of our website (www.longboatkey.org).  This is a monthly one-page highlight of things going on from a staff perspective.  The plan is to post and share that information the beginning of each month.  I have attached the first edition of the monthly briefs.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Proposed roundabout at Ringling Bridge and U.S. 41

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you for your service for the Town of Longboat Key. Through my Father, who purchased our family condominium on the island in 1977, we deeply appreciate Longboat Key.  My husband and I owned the condominium until recently when we moved to downtown Sarasota to be closer to health care.

I am writing to you regarding the proposed roundabout at the Ringling Bridge causeway and US41.

Neighbors and I heard you speak at the April 23, 2018 Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.  We also have read the May 25, 2018 piece in the Sarasota City News about the Longboat Key and FDOT workshop regarding the proposed roundabout.

We agree with you.  Your view is very sensible:  gather real empirical data about the new left turn lane over a sustained time, including season, prior to embarking on a multi-lane unproven experiment of a roundabout at this intersection.

There are many of us downtown who share your views, and have an array of concerns, and suggestions.  (You may have seen yesterday’s letter to the editor in the Sarasota Observer on this topic by Ms. Sandra Tessler, and a May 3 letter to the editor by several of us downtowners.)

I thought it would be a good idea to talk with you.  If you are interested, I am available to meet.  A neighbor is able to attend too, and Ms. Tessler could join us by conference call as well if that works. I hope to hear from you.  Thank you.

Linda Haller Sloan

Sarasota

 

To: Linda Sloan

Thank you very much for your supporting remarks. Please know that your parents, Lou and Peggy, and their long-term contributions will be missed on Longboat Key. With respect to the proposed roundabout, common sense and any reasonable analysis suggests that actual, real- time experience of improved traffic flow during the next season of the soon to be completed configuration at the intersection should be considered before any final approval of the proposed roundabout. However, FDOT and Sarasota are of the contrary view. Frankly, support by Sarasota residents and others like you may well be even more effective than from barrier islands officials such as myself. Accordingly, I would urge that you express your views to the Sarasota Commission and at the FDOT public meetings. Personally, I will be physically out of the area until September, but I have asked Longboat’s Town Manager, Tom Harmer, to contact and meet with you to follow up on your concerns . Again, I really appreciate your interest and your expressed willingness to take action.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Blake Fleetwood v. Town of Longboat Key

To: Town Commission

Attached please find a copy of the Notice of Voluntary Dismissal filed moments ago by Mr. Fleetwood’s counsel in the above referenced litigation.  The attached Notice dismisses the pending litigation with prejudice, meaning that the plaintiff is barred from bringing the same claim and the challenge is permanently dismissed.   This filing should effectively conclude this pending litigation.

This filing with the Court also means that Ordinance 2018-07 and Resolution 2018-01 authorizing the ODP/PUD and Final Site Plan approval for the St. Regis project are final and in effect. If you should have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maggie D. Mooney-Portale

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

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