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Editorial Letters – Week ending December 14, 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.

Option 3  Non-Conforming Properties

To:  All Commissioners, Allan Parsons, and all P & Z Board Members

At the December 10 Commission Workshop a topic was how to deal with Non-conforming properties.  This has been at issue for many years, and resolution appears to be near at hand.  Compliments to The Planning & Zoning Department, The Planning and Zoning Board, and The Town Commission for getting us so close to final resolution.  However, a few nits appear left to be resolved.  Option 1 and Option 2 of the current three-option proposal appear to be generally acceptable by the Commission as a group. Option 3 appears to remain at issue, being forwarded to First Vote 4 – 3 by the Commission.

A primary issue with Option 3 appears to be the “flexibility” allowed whether or not said “flexibility” would allow future a Commission to circumvent what appears to be the general population desire to maintain a cap on building heights (and density, of course).  Perhaps the “red flag” lies within a Commissioner’s comment to the effect that, but not a direct quote, … maybe the (actually, a) Commission would be willing to allow some height increases that would still be less than a pre-existing building, but above code allowed limits to facilitate new construction on a redeveloping property.  Seven stories, which exceeds code, were cited as an example.

Although the suggestion herein comes as the clock approaches the midnight hour for a final Commission vote, perhaps Option 3 is in fact too “flexible” and too complicated. The “flexibility” allowed by Option 3 appears to be tantamount to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that has been generally disavowed heretofore. The real question should be what portion of a pre-existing building(s) violates current code and recognition that that portion is considered to have vested rights vis-à-vis the Harris Act.  The key is that it is only that portion, and that is what should be addressed.

Each property has a code allowed building cube, consisting of the length and width of the property within the setback limits and the maximum height allowed for the property’s zone.  (See Attachment A.)  Anything that meets code within that cube is allowed, period.  A non-conforming property violates current code and its allowed building cube in some manner, such as encroaching into the setback area or exceeding building height.  (See Attachments B and C.)

That portion of a non-conforming property that violates maximum height code is essentially grandfathered and shall be allowed to continue exactly as it pre-exists if a building is rebuilt as is.  However, the only thing that should be actually grandfathered is the pre-existing building’s cubic volume that exceeds current code and the height that exceeds current code. It is suggested that both be allowed to be shifted to a new building as they pre-exist or in a modified form as long as the pre-existing height is not is not exceeded.  In other words, the cubic volume may be reconfigured, but the pre-existing height may not be exceeded.  That would mean the reconfigured cubic volume could be spread out, but not up, with the net effect of actually lowering the height verses that of the pre-existing building.  (See Attachment C.)

That portion consisting of the length and width of a non-conforming property that violates current setback code is the other aspect that should be considered as essentially grand-fathered, and it is suggested that it be allowed to continue exactly as it pre-exists in-situ if a building is rebuilt as is.  (See Attachment E.) If a new building is to be located elsewhere, the pre-existing in-situ location shall be deemed as voluntarily abandoned.

Other than the above parameters any new construction on any property must comply with current code.  This procedure would eliminate the pitfalls associated with the “flexibility” encompassed in Option 3 of the current proposal.

Phill Younger

Planning and Zoning Board

Longboat Key

 

Water Club Fire

To: Town Commission

Commissioners, FYI- the Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at the Water Club Condos earlier this evening.

They arrived to find a car on fire in the parking garage. The fire was quickly extinguished and did not spread beyond the car. There was heavy smoke from the fire that entered the structure and the firefighters assisting in clearing the smoke out of the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key, Florida

 

Red tide

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

I just received a note from a couple who we met last spring. They had been vacationing here for years and were interested in buying something permanent for their future here.  Now they write that they are not sure if they will consider coming back here this year because of red tide.  I know this is just 1 example but if this is not addressed soon, I suspect there are more people who will reconsider LBK as a short or long-term location.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Red tide

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

Yes, I wrote them a note encouraging them to come back and mentioned it had been 12 years since we had a bad outbreak before this one. I also told them it was not as bad as some had stated it was I met them when I was doing yard work and they were riding bicycles in the neighborhood so I do not know them well. My main concern is that while they reached out to me to find out how bad it was, I worry about the visitors, who heard on the news how awful it was here, and decide to go somewhere else. We need to do whatever we can to try to contain this, because visitors can choose to go somewhere else that has good weather, if they think this area is in trouble. And we know, from the past, if people perceive a problem, it can become a bigger problem with our dependence on tourism. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy life with “Something Fun.”

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Red tide

To: Lynn Larson

I’m sure your friends will reconsider when they go back home to the snow and cold weather, or wild fires or mud slides or earth quakes. Every area has seen bad times but I’m sure you know that Longboat Key has less of the negatives than most areas. Even our coyotes are friendly! I hope you encouraged your friends to reconsider.

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Town Manager Salary Increase

To: Town Commission

The purpose of this email is to address the procedural issue relating to the Town Manager’s salary increase which was raised following the Town Manager’s review at Monday’s meeting. Having now had an opportunity to review the Town Manager’s Employment Agreement (dated July 17, 2017) and the Section 4 of that Agreement relating to Compensation, I agree with the Town Manager that salary increases shall become the new annual base salary without the necessity of written amendment to the Agreement. Accordingly, the Town Manager’s 3% salary increase approved by the Town Commission may become effective at the earliest pay period without the necessity of bringing back another document for approval.

Should any of you have any questions about this email or the applicable provisions within the Town Manager’s Employment Agreement, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

Lighting and landscaping at The Shore

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

We are writing concerning the required lighting and landscaping at The Shore restaurant.  We own the home directly across from the restaurant parking. It is our understanding that the lighting will be quite bright, more suited to a commercial strip mall than a residential neighborhood and that very large trees are being required for the landscaping. Our request is that the lighting be allowed to be subtle, yet safe, and aesthetically pleasing.  Perhaps the lights could be fewer, shielded, or uplighting could be used rather than the traditional large poles with lights.  The same goes for the required trees, perhaps less is more.

We have talked with some of the neighbors and they feel the same way.  There are at least five homes across from the Shore that will be directly affected, and several that will be affected on Russell Street.

We realize that this may require some new interpretation of the rules and some out of the box thinking, but would like to make our concerns known to you and the rest of the Commission. Thank you for your consideration.

Brian and Karen Feeney

Longboat Key

 

The Shore restaurant

To: Karen and Brian Feeney

My understanding is that the Shore Restaurant is nearing completion after a number of delays and that its design, including lighting and landscaping, was approved after public hearings some time ago.  Having said that, I am forwarding your note to Allen Parsons, head of Longboat Key Planning and Zoning for a more comprehensive response. Thanks for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner, Longboat Key

 

The Shore restaurant

To: Karen and Brian Feeney

Thank you for sharing your concerns, which have been forwarded to me.  It may be beneficial for you & your husband to take a look at the plans.  We can go over with you what’s been approved & give you a sense of what to expect.  We can also talk about impacts and whether any modifications may be warranted. Please feel free to contact me anytime (contact info below).  We can meet at your house, on-site, or here in the Town offices.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department, Town of Longboat Key

 

The Shore restaurant

To: Town Commission

A number of you received emails from Ms. Feeney regarding the lighting planned at the Shore Restaurant.  The Planning, Zoning, Building Director Allen Parsons has reached out to her to review the approved plans and discuss her concerns.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager, Longboat Key, Florida

 

Lighting and landscaping at The Shore

To: Karen Feeney

Thank you for your suggestions, which appear to me to be very reasonable. I am asking Our Town Manager to review the plans and will follow up.

Jack Daly

 

Lighting and landscaping at The Shore

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you so much for your prompt attention to the matter.

Karen Feeney

Longboat Key

 

Shore Restaurant Follow-up

To: Karen Feeney, Gene Jaleski, Stephen Garrod

Karen, Gene, Stephen- Thanks for meeting on-site with Stan, the contractor & myself this morning & sharing your concerns.  These concerns have been conveyed to the contractor & they are working on revised site lighting plans that depict reduced overall lighting.  We’ll follow-up & contact you when we’ve received & had a chance to review their revised lighting plans to share them with you.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department, Town of Longboat Key

 

Shore Restaurant Follow-up

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom- FYI- As a follow-up to Ms. Feeney’s concerns expressed to commissioners about the site lighting at the Shore Restaurant, the Building Official & I had a meeting on-site this morning with Ms. Feeney, Gene Jaleski & Stephen Garrod. We had a productive meeting that included the contractor & anticipate receiving plans for reduced lighting at the site.  We will be following-up with the neighbors to review the plans following receipt & review. Part of the concerns with site lighting have to do with increased lighting during construction, following the fire, that has been required by the insurer of the construction.  That additional site lighting will be removed upon completion of the construction.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning and Building, Longboat Key

 

Shore Restaurant Follow-up

To: Town Commission

Commissioners, FYI.  An update on the concern that the Town received about the lighting at the new Shore Restaurant.

The staff did meet with the neighbors and the contractor is looking at a revised lighting plan for the project.

Part of the current concern is likely also related to additional lights on the site required by the insurer after the fire.  That additional lighting will be removed as the construction is completed.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager , Longboat Key

 

Longboat’s S&P Global Ratings

To: Town Commission

We recently completed a second rating review with Standard and Poors Global (S&P).  This rating is in advance of our planned borrow for the Undergrounding Project.

As you are aware, we received a AA+ rating earlier this year for our “General Obligation” borrow for the Fire Stations Project. I am pleased to announce that S&P has also issued a Long Term AA+/Stable Rating for the “Special Assessment” Undergrounding Project borrow.

Congrats again to Sue Smith and our Finance Department for all of their hard work behind the scenes and the Commission for your continued emphasis on sound financial planning.

Similar to our prior rating, S&P has reaffirmed a number of factors associated with this AA+ rating including:

• Very strong economy

• Strong management

• Strong budgetary performance

• Very strong budgetary flexibility

• Very strong liquidity

Tom Harmer

Town Manager. Longboat Key

 

Reaction to S&P Global Ratings

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Well done. Please convey my congrats to the Financial Staff as well.

Jack Daly

Commissioner, Longboat Key

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