Editorial Letters – Week ending February 8, 2019

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.

A complaint has been filed…

To: Town Commission

A follow-up to the complaint received from a property owner regarding the parking and commercial use of the property at 524 Gulf Bay Road. The business owner has been notified and a meeting is being set up to discuss their approvals, review what is allowed on the site, and what they have to do to become compliant with the Town’s Codes.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager, Town of Longboat Key


Too many parked vehicles says resident

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Staff received a complaint regarding the use and landscape and irrigation vehicle parking associated with the Grant’s Gardens business, located at 524 Gulf Bay Road. Following a review of historical records of approvals for the site, we did not find any authority for the present business use in the C-1 zoning district, nor for the present parking configuration. We have followed up with the attached Courtesy Notices in order to provide the business owner the opportunity to either address these code issues or to potentially present evidence regarding the use and/or site plan that we did not uncover. We have reached out to the business by phone, email and postal mail to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss and consider potential options.

Allen Parsons

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


Courtesy Notices for Grant’s Gardens, Inc.

To: Grant’s Gardens, Inc.

I am following up on the citizens’ complaints received regarding the Grant’s Gardens location at 524 Gulf Bay Road on Longboat Key. Please see the attached Courtesy Notices regarding the zoning use and parking per approved site plan that is not in compliance with the Town’s zoning code of ordinances. Staff from the Longboat Key Planning, Zoning & Building Department would like the opportunity to have a sit-down meeting with you and other representatives of Grant’s Gardens to discuss this further and assist Grant’s Gardens with coming into compliance. Notice has also been sent out by regular first-class mail. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please let me know. Thank you.

Chris Elbon

Code Enforcement Officer

Town of Longboat Key


Longboat Key Pass Bridge public meeting…

To: Town Commission

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District One, is holding a public information meeting to discuss the upcoming proposed structural improvements to the State Road 789 Longboat Key Pass Drawbridge over Longboat Key Pass in Manatee County, Florida (Financial Project ID 436415-1-52-01). The meeting will be held Tuesday, February 26, 2019, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key, Florida. A project location map is attached to this email.

The meeting will be an open house format, no formal presentation will be made. Those attending the meeting will be able to view displays, ask questions, and discuss the work one-on-one with members of the project team.  We encourage all interested people to attend and express their views regarding the project and information presented.

FDOT is sending notices to all property owners located up to 300 feet or more on either side of the center-line of SR 789 in the project segment.

The proposed improvements include repairs to the concrete approach span, and the bascule steel span.  Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in May 2019 with completion estimated by late 2019. During construction, motorists can expect periodic overnight lane closures and limited overnight full closures, which will limit or prohibit all vehicles on the bridge.

FDOT solicits public participation without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status. People who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Cynthia Sykes, District One Title VI Coordinator, (863) 519-2287, e-mail cynthia.sykes@dot.state.fl.us at least seven (7) days before the workshop.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact the project manager, Douglas Schallmoser, E.I., at (813) 612-3384, by email to douglas.schallmoser@dot.state.fl.us, by written correspondence to the Florida Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1249, Bartow, FL 33831-1249, or visit the project website at http://www.swflroads.com/ though the link “Future Projects” then “Manatee” and finally “Longboat Key Pass Draw Bridge Repair Project.”

John M. Kubler                                                    

Director of Transportation Development, Bartow


FEMA Reimbursement

To: Commissioner Ken Schneier

Thank you Commissioner. It was James Linkogle who kept making the weekly calls – he was the persistent one. Finance and Al Browder did the final detailed backup support work as well as the back and forth with auditors.

Susan Smith

Finance Director

Town of Longboat Key


FEMA Reimbursement of $6.6 million for LBK

To: Town Finance Director Susan Smith

Thank you for your persistence for years resulting in this week’s reimbursement for hurricane expenses of over $6.6 million from FEMA and related state funds. Wonderful and timely result.

Ken Schneier


Longboat Key


Can a zoning variance be simply bought?

To: Mayor Liz Alpert

The house next to us, at 337 North Shore, went into foreclosure. The bank then sold it to Gary Kompothecras for (we were told by a realtor)  $670,000. The price sounded awfully cheap to us and the realtor also said the owner owed Gary over $2 million. You’ve been in our house.

We also were told that AskGary wants to build 2 houses on that lot, which is zoned for only one, but that he could pay $10,000 and get a variance. Is this true?

Our neighbor on the other side and we are very concerned, because it really will change the neighborhood. Can you direct me to the person who can answer this? Thanks.

Ann Tannen



Neighborhood concern

To: Ann Tannen

I am copying the city managers with your question so that the appropriate person can respond.

Liz Alpert


City of Sarasota


Dangerous crosswalk

To: Don McEachern

Thank so much for contacting me about this pedestrian safety issue. That is a high pedestrian traffic area and safety is a concern. I have copied the City Manager on this email and he will be able to direct this to the appropriate city staff for attention and copy both of us on his email.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota


Dangerous crosswalk

To: Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

My name is Don McEachern and I am a resident of Laurel Park.  I have 2 small children that my wife and I often take on walks throughout the City.  The pictures that I am sending you are of a VERY dangerous crosswalk that my family and I have to avoid as I was almost hit crossing the road there several months ago.  The first picture is of Orange Avenue facing North with Alderman Avenue at the crosswalk.  You can see there are no signs indicating that a crosswalk is there and it is very hard to see as a motorist.  The second picture shows how worn the paint is at the crosswalk.  The third picture indicates the speed limit as 15mph and motorists almost always exceed that limit to the point that it is dangerous.  My wife and I have called and left messages at every department in the City that we could find phone numbers for, so that we could file a complaint and we have never received a call back.  Can you please help us fix this dangerous intersection?  I appreciate any help that you can offer.

Don McEachern



‘This is beyond ridiculousness’

To: Director Development Services Timothy Litchet, City Manager Tom Barwin

Once again months have gone by and nothing has been done on this dumping site. What is happening with this? It is beyond ridiculous that the city continues to allow this to be left in this state. Along Lime Ave. someone has piled up branches and lawn waste that has been left for weeks. On the corner of Lime and Aspinwall some has dumped a piece of furniture that has been left for weeks. One corner of the construction someone has painted graffiti. When it looks like a dump site that what people treat it like. When will anything ever been done and this project be completed. Previous emails stated if work did not proceed with project it would have to be demolished and neither has been done. When will something finally be done. Neighborhood is tired of looking at trash, rusted rebar, cinder blocks, overgrown grass and weeds.

Julie Lilburn



Aspinwall Project

To: Julie Lilburn

Ms. Lilburn, the city issued a demolition order and a clean- up order on January 14. The developer’s attorney filed appeals to both of the orders on February 4. A hearing before the Magistrate has been scheduled for February 28 at 9:30 a.m. The appeal by the developer states that they “dispute each and every alleged violation stated in the code compliance order”.  The City will have the building official, Larry Murphy present to testify as to why he feels the uncompleted structure is a nuisance and an unsafe building. You are welcome to attend the hearing, which is public, in room 112 at City Hall. If you have interest in testifying as to the impact of this uncompleted structure on you as a neighbor, we can arrange for you to be a witness on the city witness list.  There is of course no obligation to do so, but your testimony would be relevant to whether the structure and property is a nuisance, and therefore we would be willing to call you as a witness. If you need any additional information or have any questions I may be reached at 954-4147.

Timothy Litchet

Director, Development Services

City of Sarasota


Aspinwall Project

To: Julie Lilburn

Good afternoon and thank you for this conversation I just passed the site yesterday and shared the concerns of the community, when last brought forth there was an exchange between owners and a resale, is there a chance this may play again?


Willie Charles Shaw


City of Sarasota


Aspinwall Project

To: Commissioner Willie Shaw, Julie Lilburn, City Manager Tom Barwin

Sir, we have worked with 3 different contractors and two different potential purchasers and so far it just has not worked out.  We had a written agreement with the owner’s legal counsel that they would keep the property up and do continuous construction and they just have not abided by that agreement, so we felt like we had been as reasonable as possible, or maybe to reasonable, and now have no alternative but to pursue the demolition as we just don’t see active construction beginning again anytime soon.

Timothy Litchet

Director, Development Services

City of Sarasota


Happy to get it resolved

To: Julie Lilburn, Director Development Services Timothy Litchet

Thank you and I think that we will all be happy to get resolved here.

Willie Charles Shaw


City of Sarasota

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