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Editorial Letters – Week ending September 13, 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.

Cortez Rd/Gulf Drive Intersection – Preliminary Intersection Analysis

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Commissioner Daly,  see email below and aerial attached.  This is the information that you requested from the FDOT District Secretary (L.K.) related to the BITS study and the Cortez Rd/Gulf Drive Intersection.  He asked that we review and provide him any comments.  I have forwarded a copy to Isaac for his review.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Cortez Rd/Gulf Drive Intersection – Preliminary Intersection Analysis

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer and Bradenton Beach Mayor Chappie

On behalf of Lk Nandam, please see the attached draft conceptual roundabout at the intersection of Cortez Rd and Gulf Dr.

The following is a summary of the preliminary intersection analysis:

The back of sidewalk tie down in the northeast quadrant avoids the Bridgeport condominium building, but still hits the property.

The house on the west side is still a full take.

Restaurant parking is being removed on southwest side(around 10 spaces).

FDOT pond on southeast corner is impacted.

Takes beach. This is a sea turtle beach.

Limited ability to control speeds on some movements due to significant shift in intersection.

Additional area analysis:

Northbound right does not operate as a downstream merge. It operates as a yield.

This increases the queue, resulting in the right turn traffic blocking the through, causing the signal to not be actuated for the northbound through/right movement. Due to this, the right turn only gets about 50% of the signal’s green time, instead of 67%.

A physical barrier between the lanes to channelize and force the merge downstream instead of yield would interfere with larger truck turns, including WB-50.

A long, narrow traffic channelization gore could be done.

Anna Maria Island Trolley runs with 20 minute headways in each direction during mid-day. This is free and very popular. The stop is at 2nd St. N, and includes a brick-pattern crosswalk across SR 789 and a shelter. With stops taking 1 to 2 minutes, significant platoons can form behind them.

For southbound, this can back up through the SR 684 intersection.

For northbound, this could back up through the Bridge St. intersection.

One idea would be for the buses to circle a small block and have the stop on the side street. There are several issues with this.

The side streets lack sidewalks (2nd St N and 3rd St N) or don’t have a place to move the shelter and benches within 200’ of SR 789.

There is a public parking lot 200’ east of SR 789 on 1st St N where the stop could conceivably be moved, but it would be kind of hidden from the main movement of pedestrians.

Also, a location like 1st St N or 3rd St N does not have a marked crosswalk across SR 789.

If using a side street, the southbound bus would need to turn left to get back onto SR 789.

Another source of spill back into the SR 684 intersection are southbound left turns onto the 3 side streets before Bridge Street (in addition to left turns into driveways). The 3rd St N is the closest to the intersection.

The BeachHouse Restaurant is the fourth leg on the west. Their valet parking spot is on the east side. Block this intersection to left turns and throughs would not be an issue for taking vehicles from the restaurant to the parking lot, but would be difficult/not possible to bring them back, as the only other entrance for the restaurant that can accommodate getting to the drop off, has a gored area, making left in/out improper.

Neither 2nd or 1st would have significant circulation challenges. For closing 2nd to left in/out, though, it could cause some to turn earlier onto 3rd, causing the queue to start to build closer to SR 684. For drivers coming out on the west side of the road, they would be able to turn around in the roundabout just to the south.

Jennifer Marshall, P.E.

Project Development Manager

Florida Department of Transportation – District One

Environmental Management Office

 

Steering committee meeting

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you for your email and taking our call on the timing of the next Steering Committee Meeting and public input. Our plan is to get the Steering Committee’s input at the end of September and address comments in time for the MPO meetings in November. As we discussed on our call, the September Steering Committee Meeting is close to October when seasonal residents typically return. Those who are unable to make the September meeting will have opportunities in November to provide input on the study. Below are the dates for the study’s presentations.

Steering Committee –  September 27th

MPO Committee meetings (TAC, CAC, and ITPO) – November 4th

MPO Board – November 18th

Bessie Reina

Planning Manager, CNU-A

Florida Department of Transportation, District One

 

BITS Steering Committee

To: Bessie Reina, Nathan Kautz

Nathan/Bessie: With respect to the timing of the next committee meeting, please note that while I personally will not be available until after September 23rd, but more importantly, I suggest that the meeting be set later, during October- November in order to accommodate as much public input as possible from our residents who will then be in residence for the season. Thanks, Jack Daly.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Planning and Zoning Board member Phill Younger

Thanks for assistance with your good judgment and drafting skills.  My suggested layout is offered for consideration only as a viable alternative to your equally viable proposal.  A clear benefit of your proposal is the preservation of both tennis courts.  The key benefits of my proposal are the low cost of implementation and elimination of any need to deal with our authority to move the Kayak operation to the south end of the park.  An important benefit of both proposals is preservation of the carefully planned  grass area in the center of the park’s waterfront.  With regard to my proposed basketball revision, it would contemplate additional standard height baskets in the center of the east and west walls to create three separate shooting areas and permit a mini “full court” game in the unlikely event that a group of players was so inclined.  The present basketball layout has a couple low height baskets for tots.  Under any proposal I recommend moving one such low height basket as an added amenity to the kid’s playground area.

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Bayfront Park Layout

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

As you requested, attached is a possible layout of the Bayfront Park recreational facilities that would yield 6 new Pickleball courts (for a total of 7 courts), 1 Tennis court, and a slightly over half-sized Basketball court, with the Kayak operation remaining in its current location, and no impact on the Turn Circle.  This would require a slight expansion of the current Tennis courts footprint eastward and southward, probable relocation of the Shuffleball court, and possibly very slight southward shifting of the walkway on the south edge of the Tennis courts, if at all.  (Perhaps the walkway could simply become more narrow, instead.)  The slightly over half-sized Basketball court would encroach into the existing Kayak operation area, but appears doable.  Relocation of the Shuffleball court to the westward edge of the parking area and the east edge of the Dog Park also appears doable, given a slight shift in the Dog Park fence.

This arrangement sacrifices one Tennis court and about a half Basketball court, and some of the Kayak operation area, but it also appears to offer a cost effective possibility, especially since very little in the way of the hard surfaces would be required and the cost of moving the Kayak operation would be eliminated.

Phill Younger

Longboat Key

 

Baby birds

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you for your email and taking our call on the timing of the next Steering Committee Meeting and public input. Our plan is to get the Steering Committee’s input at the end of September and address comments in time for the MPO meetings in November. As we discussed on our call, the September Steering Committee Meeting is close to October when seasonal residents typically return. Those who are unable to make the September meeting will have opportunities in November to provide input on the study. Below are the dates for the study’s presentations.

Steering Committee –  September 27th

MPO Committee meetings (TAC, CAC, and ITPO) – November 4th

 

BITS Steering Committee

To: Bessie Reina

With respect to the timing of the next committee meeting, please note that while I personally will not be available until after September 23rd, but more importantly, I suggest that the meeting be set later, during October- November in order to accommodate as much public input as possible from our residents who will then be in residence for the season. Thanks, Jack Daly. Thanks very much, Bessie, for the quick follow up.

Jack Rovingson

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you for your email and taking our call on the timing of the next Steering Committee Meeting and public input. Our plan is to get the Steering Committee’s input at the end of September and address comments in time for the MPO meetings in November. As we discussed on our call, the September Steering Committee Meeting is close to October when seasonal residents typically return. Those who are unable to make the September meeting will have opportunities in November to provide input on the study. Below are the dates for the study’s presentations.

Steering Committee –  September 27th

MPO Committee meetings (TAC, CAC, and ITPO) – November 4th

MPO Board – November 18th

Bessie Reina

Planning Manager, CNU-A

Florida Department of Transportation, District One

 

BITS Steering Committee

With respect to the timing of the next committee meeting, please note that while I personally will not be available until after September 23rd, but more importantly, I suggest that the meeting be set later, during October- November in order to accommodate as much public input as possible from our residents who will then be in residence for the season. Thanks, Jack Daly.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Bayfront Park layout

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

As you requested, attached is a possible layout of the Bayfront Park recreational facilities that would yield 6 new Pickleball courts (for a total of 7 courts), 1 Tennis court, and a slightly over half-sized Basketball court, with the Kayak operation remaining in its current location, and no impact on the Turn Circle.  This would require a slight expansion of the current Tennis courts footprint eastward and southward, probable relocation of the Shuffleball court, and possibly very slight southward shifting of the walkway on the south edge of the Tennis courts, if at all.  (Perhaps the walkway could simply become more narrow, instead.)  The slightly over half-sized Basketball court would encroach into the existing Kayak operation area, but appears doable.  Relocation of the Shuffleball court to the westward edge of the parking area and the east edge of the Dog Park also appears doable, given a slight shift in the Dog Park fence.

This arrangement sacrifices one Tennis court and about a half Basketball court, and some of the Kayak operation area, but it also appears to offer a cost effective possibility, especially since very little in the way of the hard surfaces would be required and the cost of moving the Kayak operation would be eliminated.

Phill Younger

Planning and Zoning Board

Longboat Key

 

Pickleball v. Tennis

To: Town Planning and Zoning Board

At the September 9, 2019, Town Commission Meeting there was a lengthy discussion related to Pickleball, Tennis, and other recreational amenities, which was a continuance of several previous meetings.  The discussion was well thought out, and I commend the Town Staff and the Commission on their efforts.

It appears that the preference and consensus was to keep all current Bayfront Park amenities on site and to simultaneously expand Pickleball facilities by 6 additional courts, if possible.  On the surface this might appear as an effort to cram ten pounds into a one-pound bag, but a close look indicates that it is in fact achievable with minimum effort, minimum cost, and no disruption or long-term or even temporary sacrifice of any Bayfront Park amenity.

One possibility involved building up to 6 new Pickleball courts on the current Kayak operation location and moving it to the south end of the park where two docks already exist.  Since the distance between the north edge of the Basketball court and the north property line is at least 70 feet, it is certainly deep enough to accommodate 60-foot deep Pickleball courts.  Attachment A: Bayfront Park Proposed Layout indicates that there is enough room to accommodate 6 new and properly aligned Pickleball courts using the current Kayak operation allocation and eliminating the Turn Circle at the end of the parking area.  Elimination of the Turn Circle would have little to no impact on parking or vehicle maneuverability.  The last of the 6 new Pickleball courts would abut the Dog Park, which is also no big deal.

The Basketball court would remain at its current location, as would the two tennis courts, which could return to full-time use for tennis only, putting this operation back to its original use.

The Attachment A also indicates a possible spot for relocation of the Kayak operation near the existing two south docks.  The proposed spot would offer minimum disruption to the overall south end layout.  The Kayak lot should be shell to accommodate drainage, as already exists at the current Kayak operation location.  Existing grasses should be maintained to the greatest extent possible between the parking spots.  Likewise, a 10-foot wide Kayak operation access road starting at the south end of the south parking lot should also be shell and should hug the existing southern foliage to the greatest extent possible, to maintain the serenity of all the other south end facilities such as the playground. A new Kayak launch ramp could be constructed near the south end pedestrian bridge spanning one of the south canals.  This would be the closest point to and virtually adjacent to the Kayak storage area.

Attachment B: Alternate Kayak Operation Locations depicts both the Attachment A proposed Kayak storage rack with parking location and an alternate location adjacent to the north edge of the southernmost canal with the Kayak launch ramp on the edge of that canal.  However, this would require eating into the open area in front of the south dock, and it would appear that maintaining the current overall ambiance of this grassy open area would be more preferable.

Regarding concern about designation by Sarasota County of the south end of the park as passive, the area already contains a children’s playground, and is this really “passive” as such?  Plus, the south end docks indicate that boating is already an acceptable function, and since Kayaking is merely an adjunct of this, it and suitable storage racks should be equally acceptable.  In any event, obtaining County acquiescence to modifying to south end of the park to accommodate Kayaking operations should be doable.

Phill Younger

Member

Planning and Zoning Board

 

Grant’s Gardens searching for volunteers

To: Town Commission

Commissioners,  FYI.  The Town did receive an application for a rezoning and comp plan amendment from Grants Gardens last Friday. The staff is reviewing.

Thomas A. Harmer, ICMA-CM

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Grant’s Gardens Status Update

To: Town Commission, Town Manager Tom Harmer

FYI- Grant’s Gardens submitted applications for a rezoning (from the C-1 to the C-2 zone district) & an associated Future Land Use Map amendment (from the Commercial Limited to the General Commercial land use classification), this morning.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning and Zoning Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Grant’s Gardens Status Update

To: Town Commission, Town Manager Tom Harmer

See update below on Grant Garden’s plans to redevelop their property.  They have indicated that they will be submitting a Future Land Use Map Amendment and a Rezoning request later this week.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Providing a status update on Grant’s Gardens

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

· A Neighborhood Workshop was held at Aug. 14th at Bayfront Park. No residents attended.

· Preliminary plans for the property include redevelopment of the property, including an adjacent parcel, with a newly designed building and site layout.  Preliminary plans indicate the applicants will be seeking approval of Variances, along with Special Exception and Site Plan approval.

·  Given that the proposed use of the property will require rezoning (from the C-1 to the C-2 zone district) & an associated Future Land Use Map amendment (from the Commercial Limited to the General Commercial land use classification), staff is directing the applicant to pursue the rezoning & Future Land Use Map amendment applications first.  If approved, this would be followed by a Variance request &, if that is approved, it would be followed by a Special Exception and Site Plan request.

· Representatives of Grant’s Gardens indicate that the applications for a Future Land Use Map amendment & Rezoning are anticipated to be filed this Thursday.

· Staff will also be requiring the submission of Code Enforcement proceeding continuation request(s) to be considered based on the applicant’s pursuit & progress in their anticipated entitlement requests.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Rental enforcement

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, a Longboat neighbor recently voiced discontent about the lack of illegal rental enforcement in his gated community. I replied that the town faced daunting enforcement challenges such as confronting rental occupants in suspected weekly rentals and renters being willing to lie about their rental arrangement.

I am under the impression that the state courts have upheld Longboat Key’s legal right to enforce the island’s thirty day rental ordinance.

I wish to suggest a few possible mechanisms that might be explored to assist the town in effectively protecting this quality of life challenge on the island.

1) I am told that the Town of Anna Maria has landlords past rules and regulations close to the rental entrance. This might help unsuspecting renters become aware that weekly rental arrangements are illegal on Longboat. It might also discourage land lords from exposing themselves to public scrutiny

2) The town might explore the efficacy of spending some money on highly targeted Google pop-up ads when people search for “Longboat Key rental” or “Longboat weekly rental” on VRBO and Airbnb. The pop-up ad would simply display the town’s law pertaining to weekly rentals, and might effectively discourage people looking for short-term rentals on Longboat Key.

3) Accessing “room tax” records from Manatee and Sarasota counties. This information might divulge information about who is reporting rental receipts for fewer that thirty days. I suspect that failure to accurately report rental taxes is some sort of crime in Florida, and might further deter illegal rentals.

4) Periodically including a concise explanation of the island’s rentals ordinances and consequences for violations in the monthly utility statement.

5) Prominently posting Longboat Key short-term rental rules on the town’s web site, including fines and other consequences for violators.

I hope these ideas might assist the town in its efforts to effectively control the short term rental problem on the island.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Site development application

To: Town Commission

Whitney’s (former Gas Station at GMD and Broadway) has submitted a Site Development Application to the Town today that would add an outdoor dining use to the site/project.  It would add an additional 28 seats and include a parking agreement with the adjacent property.  The staff be reviewing the application and it will require a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Board.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Site Development Plan Application Filed- Outdoor Dining at Whitney’s Restaurant

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom- FYI- We received a Site Development Plan application today to add an outdoor dining use to the under-construction Whitney’s Restaurant (at the corner of GMD & Broadway). The proposed plan (including landscape plan, attached) depicts the addition of 28 additional outdoor dining seats (at 4 tables & 2 counters), underneath the outdoor canopy.  Parking is proposed to be provided at the adjacent vacant former bank property via a Parking Lot Agreement allowing for the exclusive use of the adjacent site’s 18 spaces. The application includes a proffered condition that recognizes that if the parking agreement is terminated, that the restaurant seating count would need to be reduced to meet the parking requirements.

Based on the site’s C-3 zoning, the proposed outdoor dining will proceed through a Site Development Plan approval process, which will include a public hearing before the P&Z Board.  I will keep you apprised of its review status & when it’s anticipated to go to a public hearing.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Cortez Rd/Gulf Drive Intersection – Preliminary Intersection Analysis

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks, Tom. After review, we need to discuss. I’m concerned that this may indicate that The BITS will not include any significant improvements at the critical intersection.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

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