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Editorial Letters – Week ending April 19, 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.

Impressive Beach Cleaning

To: Editor

As I sat on my balcony having a coffee early Thursday morning I watched as a Longboat Key Town Employee drove her tractor methodically back and forth, raking the sand. When she got to the edge of the beach where there are tiki huts, she jumped down and hand raked all the places that were unreachable with the tractor. I just want to draw attention to someone doing an amazing job, going the extra mile and maintaining our beautiful beaches. Thank you for the work you do – it is greatly appreciated.

Tamara Wright

Longboat Key

 

Human Settlement Zones

To: Editor

This is in response to the editorial column “Ocasio-Cortez Heralds a new Political Era” in your March 8 paper.  It is a grave mistake to think that young Ocasio is pushing Socialism all on her own. The malleable, inexperienced Cortez is a puppet for Agenda 21 forces.  For those who aren’t familiar with Agenda 21 I strongly urge you to read up on it.  You can learn about it from Tom DeWeese at the American Policy Center online.  Americans should be alert to what leaders have been planning for many years: You will no longer be permitted to own your own home but will be herded into stack and pack housing in “Human Settlement Zones” in various places around the country. For lack of time I cannot explain the specifics but dismiss this warning at your peril.

A. H.

Longboat Key

 

Plastic bags dangerous for wildlife

To: Editor

I took this photo recently of a roseate spoonbill on the pond on the Harboursid Golf Course on Bay Isles Parkway, across the street from Publix. It made me feel a sense of outrage to see this beautiful creature right beside two plastic bags that you can see on the right side of the photo, floating not far from it. If that isn’t enough, I’m attaching another photo of more plastic bags floating in the same pond. Every time I go shopping at Publix (and I’m a regular customer) I see people leaving the store with eight and ten plastic bags in their shopping carts. We are living in an island paradise on the Gulf of Mexico and it is unconscionable that in 2019 people are still using these single use plastic bags indiscriminately, especially on Longboat Key.

It is well known that if plastic bags, as well as other plastic articles are not disposed of correctly they can become airborne, thus being carried into our waterways. There, they become a danger to many species of wildlife, including birds, fish, turtles and manatee who ingest them, thinking that they are jelly fish or other forms of food.

It is time that we all take some responsibility in eliminating these from our environment. When will Publix set an example and take steps to decrease the number of plastic bags that leave their store? When will customers take their reusable bags to the store?

When will the Longboat Key Club, Harbourside Course eliminate the plastic bags on their golf course so that wildlife such as roseate spoonbills, egrets, and swans will not be injured or killed by them? All of us must take action before it is too late to protect our wildlife. When species disappear, they disappear forever.

Jo Ann Goldwater

Longboat Key

 

Saying goodbye to 40-year-old mahogany trees

To: Editor

We understand that the town has granted a legal permit to remove two beautiful 40-year-old Mahogany trees in the community where I live in Bay Isles. The reason being that these trees produce pods/seeds that seasonally fall to the ground and have, on occasion, fallen on cars parked underneath them,  sometimes leaving a dent.  Wondering -are there no other options or solutions besides destroying natures creations? Perhaps a sign could alert drivers of this possibility when these pods tend to fall and one could choose another place to park during this time. Destroying these trees is a disrespect for the longevity of nature , our tree loving community and our planet— just for a parking inconvenience .

Cheryl Nelson

Longboat Key

 

Daylight Plane Requirements

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Following-up on input received at the Commission’s Goals & Objectives Workshop regarding Daylight Plane requirements and their applicability at houses under construction on Buttonwood Dr. Daylight Plane requirements are additional standards that are in place to provide for light and air, and to limit the impacts of bulk and mass on adjacent properties. Their use, when combined with maximum height limits and building setback requirement, defines the building envelope within which structures or additions must be contained.

Daylight Plane as defined in the Zoning Code is as follows:

“Daylight plane.” The angle in degrees for single-family homes measured from side lot line boundaries projecting upward toward the center of the parcel beginning at minimum habitable floor elevation as established by law.”

The Daylight Plane standards and their angle of measurement depend on the width of lot and range from 65 degrees for a 50 ft. wide lot to a 50 degree angle, for lots that are 100 ft. wide or more. The Buttonwood properties fall into the 100+’ wide properties and are required to have a 50 degree angle of Daylight Plane. Planning, Zoning, and Building staff have reviewed the building permit plans for 500 and 550 Buttonwood Drive for compliance with the daylight plane requirements of the Zoning Code and found that both of these building permits are in compliance for Daylight Plane.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Daylight Plane Requirements

To: Town Commission

FYI- at the Goals and Objectives Meeting earlier this week there was a question regarding the Daylight Plane requirements, especially as it relates to the new homes at the entrance to the Buttonwood subdivision. See note below regarding that requirement- the staff has indicated that they buildings were reviewed as part of their building permit and found to be in compliance with that requirement. There was a comment about possibly setting a future discussion with the Commission on this topic, but I wanted to pass along the prior code review for these specific structures.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Post Office appearance deteriorating

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Afternoon Tom. I hope you and your wife are enjoying living on Longboat.

Given the right and ongoing interest of the Town in promoting quality aesthetics of our island, I urge you to take a walk across the street from your office sometime and take a good look at our Post Office and grounds. You will see that there is obvious and significant deferred maintenance resulting in an unsightly appearance of the building and grounds. The exterior appearance deterioration is accelerating as maintenance continues to be deferred year to year.

Of course our Town has no responsibility for this Federal Office but hopefully you can call attention to the situation with the appropriate Post Office Management, remind them of Town standards and ask for their cooperation.

As you know, this facility is frequented by many residents and vacationing visitors which leaves a poor impression unlike the vast majority of well maintained structures and landscaping on Longboat.

Bob Gault

Longboat Key

 

Grants Gardens expansion and possible Code Variance

To: Town Commission

We have been putting up with increasing truck noise and parking difficulties caused by Grants Gardens for sometime. Many days the road is all but un-passable because of heavy truck traffic from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

This repeats at 4.30 p.m. – 5 p.m. each afternoon.

We have recently heard of plans to expand this business and request a variance to the current code for Gulfbay Rd. businesses.

We strongly disagree with any expansion of Grants Gardens and would loudly object to any variance which might allow further development on Gulfbay Rd, Longboat Key.

This business is not a small flower shop but instead is a large landscaping business not compliant with code for our street.

Please be aware that the residents of Gulfbay Rd. are united in rejecting any further development on our street with the exception of residences.

David Ward

Longboat Key

 

Grants Gardens expansion and possible Code Variance

To: David Ward

Thank you for your comments. By this reply I am asking the Town Manager to review the current activities you describe. While I am not aware of any expansion plans, as I assume you know, the Town is working with Grants to resolve zoning compliance issues. Be assured that any changes would provide for advance public input.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Manager responds to Grants Gardens

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Commissioner Daly, thank you for the email. As you stated the Town is working with Grants to resolve outstanding zoning compliance issues. See the latest update (below and attached) on this issue from the PZB Department. This is a follow-up to the February violation notices that were sent to the business.

Based on this update I have been advised that the owner has addressed the parking violation notice. The email concerns that you forwarded to me today have been shared with the planning staff and I will ask them to continue to monitor the conditions on site and follow-up as necessary. Residents can also contact our code enforcement officer or the PZB Department directly with any future concerns or questions.

I am not aware of any expansion plans either. I have been advised that it is the owner’s intent to request Town approval to allow them to continue their current use on the property. They have been given some time to either receive the necessary entitlements to allow them to continue their existing operations on site or to come into compliance with the current regulations. As you have indicated, if they were to make that request it would require public notice and a public hearing.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Unfortunate you found this inappropriate…

To: Town Commission

Thank you Mr. Mayor and Commissioners for the hours you put in to help make Longboat Key the paradise it is.  On that note, the goals and objectives on the island are important to all citizens.  The talk Mr. Principe gave about the condition of the fence along the south side of Bayfront Park certainly aligns with the town’s goal #5 “encouraging improvement of residential properties and maintain character of existing neighborhoods.”  His entire presentation asked for proper fencing separating the Bayfront  Park from Longboat Key Estates. In addition he requested maintenance for the road along the trench-like canal where Jessmyth is eroding.  What better place to speak about the issues than at this meeting?

Mr. Bru talked about the dredging of canals which also speaks to Goal # 5 but also references Goal #6  “protecting our natural environment.”  These canals protect the seawalls and property behind them. Certainly these issues speak to the substance of the meeting.  We had already written a letter and email to Public Works about this dredging, but have received no answer two months later, thus we thought this might be an appropriate venue to revisit this topic.

It is unfortunate that you felt it was an inappropriate time for this discussion.  Hopefully this explains the reasoning behind it. I hope these items will be strongly considered by the Commissioners.

Hazel Steskal

Longboat Key

 

ACE Project and proposed MOU

To: Mayor George Spoll

I observed the discussion at yesterday’s Commission meeting via “live streaming”, of the above matter.

Let me repeat my suggestion from my letter to you of last week. To refer to this as a “community” endeavor is not correct. Only a small portion of our community is behind this project nor are they against it. They just don’t know. The audience attendance yesterday confirms this.

The public has not had a broad based means of providing their input.

The issue is not about Ringling, for or against. It has everything to do with what will be done with the site. As Commissioner Haycock said, it’s a great site. Let’s improve it thoughtfully.”

Why is the Commission reluctant to hear from the public? Done right we residents will use it. If not, we will have a white elephant on our hands.

I implore you take a moment and get the public’s ideas. Any delay is immaterial compared to the positive result we desire.

Dave Brenner

Longboat Key

 

Fruitville Road

To: Mayor George Spoll

I would like to say thank you for voicing your concerns about diminishing the Fruitville Road from four lanes to just two. I’m concerned about the negative impact it would have on vehicular traffic and as a full time resident of Bird Key and two girls that attend Sarasota Military Academy Prep school east of I-75 we use this corridor multiple times a day. It’s already challenging and somewhat frustrating during snowbird season. Overall, I believe the City of Sarasota is just trying to expand the downtown footprint thus drastically changing Fruitville corridor and turning it into the likes of Main Street and Ringling Blvd. So, thanks again.

Bill Edwards

Sarasota

 

Building/Fire Fee Study Workshop Discussion; Consultant Logistics Issue

To: Town Commission

We were notified this afternoon that one of the principal consultants for the building fee study will not be able to make the Commission meeting tomorrow due to flight disruptions associated with the winter storm in the Midwest.

We will reschedule their presentation to the May workshop. That timeline should not impact staff’s recommendation for an updated fee schedule to be approved before your recess and implemented effective with the new fiscal year (October 1, 2019).

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Building/Fire Fee Study Workshop Discussion; Consultant Logistics Issue

To: Town Commission

I was informed this afternoon that one of the principals of the Town’s Fee Study consultants is being delayed by a spring snow storm in Chicago. He’s looked into other locational departure & arrival options, with an earliest arrival time of mid- afternoon in Tampa. This will be too late for the Commission meeting.

We discussed the possibility of providing input to the Commission via phone, but recognize that that would leave a lot to be desired for this important topic.

I am therefore requesting a continuance of this item to the May Regular Workshop in order to have the consultant team present for the Commission’s considerations.

We will notify all the contractors first thing in the morning about the continuation. Please let me know if I can provide anything further.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

City of Sarasota Commission Meeting

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

At the Sarasota County Council of Governments meeting the City of Sarasota confirmed that the Fruitville Road Diet related agenda item will be discussed after their dinner recess (after 6 p.m.).  It is not scheduled for a time certain- just that it will be during their evening session.

The Town has transmitted the Mayor’s letter on Friday and the Town Attorney will be signing up to speak on behalf of the Town.

Several Commissioners have indicated that they will be attending the City’s public meeting Monday evening.  The Town Clerk has posted the meeting indicating 2 or more Commissioners may be in attendance.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

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