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Editorial Letters – Week ending March 27, 2020

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 Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Please close Longboat Key

To: Commissioner George Spoll
Hello, hope you are and yours are doing well. I have lived on longboat for 35 years and what a blessing it has been.
I am 77 years old with lung disease, so I am at high risk for this terrible virus I have been self-quarantined since January. I am working from home, my husband is with me and my son who is still working and lives with me. Please see figures below:
3/20/20. Fla 216 infected
3/21/20  Fla 706 infected
3/23/20. Fla 1,185 infected  14 deaths
3/24 /20 Fla  1,467 infected 17 deaths
3/25/20  Fla.  1,583 infected 22 deaths
We are headed on the path of New York because Governor DeSantis won’t do the right thing. I’m hoping you will for the life and good of our beloved Longboat and it’s people.
I’m begging you, please close the beaches and follow Anna Marie and limit all visitors to one-month stays.
Because I can tell you since all beaches around us has closed vacationers are parking in condo and other parking places and cutting thru private property to get to beaches. Publix parking lot at 7:30 a.m. full customers lined up from registers to back wall by meat counter. These are vacationers. Please I’m begging you, this virus can only spread through travelers, stop visitors from coming to this island for the time being, close our beaches and protect us all.
Sandy Dearwester
Longboat Key

 

Governor’s Executive Orders

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Attached are the two latest Governor’s Executive Orders. Order 20-82 is the travel order regarding the NY area and 20-83 related to the Surgeon General urging individuals that are 65 years of age or older to stay at home.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Governor’s Executive Orders 20-82 and 20-83

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-82, directing all persons who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.

The Governor also issued Executive Order 20-83, directing the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory to all persons over 65 years of age urging them to stay home and to take such other measures as necessary to limit their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Helen Aguirre Ferré

Director of Communications

Governor Ron DeSantis

Time to stand together

To: Longboat Key Commission

We are LBK residents for several years now. While the following communication is a step in the right direction, it is pales into insignificance in the face of the magnitude of the challenge posed by the Covid-19 virus threat.

Yes, official events should be temporarily eliminated, restaurants closed and beach access restricted. Good.

The goal is correct also, to protect LBK citizens and LBK government, police, fire and service staff. But the only really effective way to do that is with an official shelter-in-place and lock-down order.

Stop all indoor and outdoor group activities for a period of time, preferably until such time that real medical data and infection rate projections indicate that the peak has past, not one set by political calendars. (A group = four or more.)

Yes, we know that apart from being a residential community LBK is also a popular vacation and tourism location, and that business interests are important to consider.

But so are life-and-death health issues.

We ask you two questions: 1) how can you weigh the life vs. business trade-off, and 2) what makes you think a short-sighted lack of near-term restrictions will be better for business in the long-run. (You don’t know; you are wishing, not responding to facts.)

This is the time for community leaders to step up and for all of us not to step out. The commission has a serious role to play. You need to support the community at large with decisive action.

Also, it is time to stand together. LBK Commission should take the stand mentioned above, and then should work directly with the leadership of Sarasota, and other neighboring communities to take collective action in the same direction. It will take collective action to halt the spread of this virus. It appears that we cannot, sadly, rely on our Governor to show the effective leadership we need. He’s left it up to the communities to decide. So, decide! Locally, let’s stand up and show what effective actions can be taken from the grass roots, and the shores of LBK.

John and Judy Culbreth

Longboat Key

 

Time for action

To: Longboat Key Town Commissioner Ed Zunz

Ed, since you are the only commissioner that I know, I am sending this to you to make sure all the rest got the message. This is the time for better action than our national, state and local governments (bless their hearts) have taken to this point.  We expect more.

Anyhow, I appreciate the work you guys do, and hop you will move this forward on this.

By the way, I got to meet your son at the police department the other day (car was hit and run).  Chip off the old block, I’d say.

John Culbreth

Longboat Key

 

Locking down

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

I just heard that the Governor of Mississippi just overroad the shelter in place order of his state.  That takes away the rights of Mayors to protect their citizens because it will now tell workers to go back to work, restaurants to open, offices to open etc.

As it is right now, Governor DeSantis has not ordered a shelter in place in the state, though Miami and Orlando have.  I hope that our LBK Commission will begin discussing the possibility of having to stand up for the health and welfare of our island citizens if the President and then our Governor follows thru with reopening business and schools by Easter.

Also I have heard from many people living in apartments and condos around the country, that have instituted their own new rules regarding visitors, workmen, new sanitary conditions, cleaning crews.  They are basically locking down their residents within the building unless they are going to the doctor, pharmacy, and groceries are being delivered curbside.  This is for the health and safety of the residents and staff.

Please consider these ideas when discussing this issue with the LBK commission.  Thank you BJ and we are so glad to have you on board.

Arlene Skversky

Longboat Key

 

Locking down

To: Arlene Skversky

Thanks Arlene. I am hearing from folks who all believe this is necessary.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key
COVID-19 Response and Current Information

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

BJ, I know the Culbreths, they asked me to forward to the Commission, so I am personally doing this for them. This is not from the LBK Dem Club.

Arlene Skversky

Longboat Key

 

COVID-19 Response and Current Information

To: Howard Veit, Arlene Skversky

Would it be a good idea for the LBK Democratic Club to encourage LBK residents send out similar appeals to the LBK and Sarasota town commissioners?  We think that the refusal of our governor to issue “stay at home” orders is very dangerous for Sarasota and LBK residents. Many residents here are elderly and live in condos with shared facilities.  If the state of Florida will not issue such orders, perhaps the local leaders could do so.  Concerned people here can contact leaders at: commission@longboatkey.org

Judy Culbreth

Longboat Key

 

COVID-19 Response and Current Information
To: Longboat Key Commission

We are LBK residents for several years now.

While the following communication is a step in the right direction, it is pales into insignificance in the face of the magnitude of the challenge posed by the Covid-19 virus threat.

Yes, official events should be temporarily eliminated, restaurants closed and beach access restricted.  Good.

The goal is correct also, to protect LBK citizens and LBK government, police, fire and service staff.

But the only really effective way to do that is with an official shelter-in-place and lock-down order.

Stop all indoor and outdoor group activities for a period of time, preferably until such time that real medical data and infection rate projections indicate that the peak has past, not one set by political calendars. (A group = four or more.)

Yes, we know that apart from being a residential community LBK is also a popular vacation and tourism location, and that business interests are important to consider.

But so are life-and-death health issues.

We ask you two questions: 1) how can you weigh the life vs. business trade-off, and 2) what makes you think a short-sighted lack of near-term restrictions will be better for business in the long-run. (You don’t know; you are wishing, not responding to facts.)

This is the time for community leaders to step up and for all of us not to step out. The commission has a serious role to play. You need to support the community at large with decisive action.

Also, it is time to stand together. Longboat Key Commission should take the stand mentioned above, and then should work directly with the leadership of Sarasota, and other neighboring communities to take collective action in the same direction. It will take collective action to halt the spread of this virus. It appears that we cannot, sadly, rely on our Governor to show the effective leadership we need. He’s left it up to the communities to decide. So, decide!  Locally, let’s stand up and show what effective actions can be taken from the grass roots, and the shores of Longboat Key.

John and Judy Culbreth

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Congratulations Mayor Ken and thank you for your service.
Bob and Shannon Gault

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Bob and Shannon Gault
Thank you, and stay safe.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Congratulations on your new position on the Town Board.  Your extensive experience here and in Leesburg, will be invaluable for the Town. Stay well!

Maryl Levine

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Maryl Levine

Maryl – thank you so much. Hope you are well and safe.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

We are well and safe, and hope that all on Longboat Key stay safe and well, also.

Maryl Levine

Longboat Key

 

Street lighting

To: Pete Rowan

Pete per recent Town protocol as of this afternoon and under the circumstances we are requested to conduct as much as is practical electronic communications.

Please find information attached in regards to the proposed aesthetic values and technical capability of Town Street Lights that was last presented to the Commission.

Please keep in mind we are still working with the manufacturer and vendors under our contract with Wilco Electrical as to confirming final designs, layouts, required circuitry, related fiber designs and ordering.

In regards to the vista switch box locations and the water table elevations within the boxes, I spoke with Wilco representative and we will look into what can be done in regards to them potentially being or becoming mosquito breeding locations.

Hope this helps, if you have any questions let me know, have a great evening, thanks!

James Linkogle

Public Works Project Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Street lighting

To: Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle

Hi James. Thanks for sending.  Is there any way we can get something like this instead?  Is it a cost factor?  Have we priced the difference?  We are making probably a decision that will last us (well you maybe) 60 years. I’d like us to make the absolute most aesthetic, yet affordable, decision on this.

Pete Rowan

Longboat Key

Linley Street public boat ramp closed
To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Today Manatee County announced the closing of all of the public boat ramps effective 6am March 26th.  In support of their action we will be also closing the Town’s one public boat ramp (Lindley Street) on March 26th as well.  That will help ensure that we aren’t impacted by boaters from the great Manatee County area and beyond from using the Town’s boat ramp.  The County’s actions are partly intended to address the large gatherings of the boating community that are occurring in Manatee County including Greer Island and the sandbar near Jewfish Key.  They have designated a single boat ramp on Coquina Beach for commercial fisherman.

As part of their actions they have announced that they are also closing public access to Greer Island (County Park).  This was related to a number of complaints received this past weekend and the Town’s request to help address the large gatherings that were occurring, especially after the public beach access points were closed.

We will continue to work with Manatee and Sarasota Counties monitoring conditions, implementing protective measures, and providing updates on the status of the response.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Curfews

To: Town of Longboat Key

Thank you I hope everything’s going well with you all. I was wondering if you could find out some information as to what types of, if any, curfews any cities in any of your regional leagues have imposed? We got a call from the governor’s office around 7:30 p.m. tonight and they want to know what cities are doing with respect to any type of curfews- or really any local emergency actions- that have been taken that go beyond what the governor has called for. Thanks for your help. Stay safe!

Scott Dudley

Legislative Director

Florida League of Cities

 

All access points to beach closing

To: Longboat Key Town Commission
In reviewing the effectiveness of our beach assess closures effect this past Saturday morning, the Town monitored conditions at all sites.  We were generally very pleased with the outcome.  There was one area that we did not close off and it became apparent that this particular location become a very active area due to its availability.  Based on that experience we have now included the parking for Overlook Park and Quick Point in our closures to prevent future large gathering of individuals as occurred this past weekend.

We did also receive some complaints for the amount of boat activity on the sandbar off of Jewfish Key and the boat access to Greer Island.  On Saturday we shared those concerns with Manatee County. Since this is a Manatee County Park we asked for their assistance to address the large gathering of individuals on Greer Island that were arriving at the Park by boat. They followed up with us today and indicated that they would be getting back to us with some plans to help address the issue. They also are talking to the FWC on assisting with the large gathering of boats on the sandbar. We will update the Commission when we hear back from the County and the actions they will be taking.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Village life & safety issues

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Mike Haycock

Thanks again for your public service, and for your continuing interest in the very dangerous life and safety issues caused by the out-of-control parking and traffic situation in the Village.  We look forward to the March 23 Workshop to provide additional feedback to, and hopefully witness action by, the Commission.

We note that our representative, Commissioner Zunz, who knows our district best, fully supports our Parking Committee’s Resident Parking Permit solution and has asked for your support as well.  We hope you will offer it fully and enthusiastically (as we imagine he will when you ask for his support to resolve some pressing life and safety (and/or important quality of life) issue in your district or on the Key as a whole.

We are confident that the life/safety data we (and the Town Police) have provided to you over the past year proves that an immediate adoption of Resident Permit Parking (and the other safety recommendations) is needed to avoid an imminent, inevitable and tragic pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist injury or death.

(Please let us know if it would be helpful for us and the Police Department to summarize that data – such as the over 1,000 speeders per day on Broadway, the sightline setbacks on Broadway, Russell, Lois and Poinsetta that are too-short-as-is and that are regularly and repeatedly violated by non-resident parkers, and the like.)

In this email, we thought it would be helpful to change subjects a bit to provide you with a summary of the first-hand observations of the restaurants’ onsite lots made by members of our Committee at regular intervals over the last four weekends.

These observations consistently revealed that, even at the absolute height of the Village season – when many seasonal and year-round residents and their many seasonal guests and visitors are using street parking – and even at peak times for the restaurants, there are numerous empty parking stalls at each restaurant and a virtually empty under-building lot at Shore.  (Often, the on-site lots are half, or less, full.)  And, to date, we have never observed any valet stacking parking at either restaurant as was predicted by the restaurants.

(We thought it would be particularly helpful to make these observations over a four-weekend period when use of Village parking by residents and their guests and visitors is at its absolute highest, such as when residents host large events – like the annual high school reunion we host, large family reunions regularly hosted by us and other Village residents, and the like.)

And all of this was true even before Shore recently began to operate its Whitney Plaza spaces and even while we have never observed more than two vehicles in Mar Vista’s gravel lot marked “employee and construction parking only” in the former forest on GMD.

Of course, this proves definitively, and once-and-for-all, that the onsite lots at the restaurants plus Shore’s under-building lot can accommodate all of the restaurants’ patrons (and perhaps some employees as well), and that the restaurants’ offsite lots can accommodate all of the restaurants’ employees.

We commend the restaurants for the steps they have taken to make this so, and for their concession – on the record – that patrons and employees will not stop parking on Village streets and fully utilize the various restaurant lots until Resident Permit Parking is enacted.

Therefore, it is clear that there is absolutely no need for the restaurants to use our formerly quiet and safe — but still historic and residential — streets as commercial parking lots (even if that was anything other than a very bad and dangerous idea in any event).

By promptly enacting our Committee’s Resident Permit Parking proposal (and the other recommended safety steps), the Commission can quite easily – and dramatically – resolve the life and safety dangers caused in our community by the inappropriate expansion of all three restaurants, while simultaneously restoring our quality of life and providing a nod to the restaurants for their successful steps to accommodate all their patron and employee parking in commercial spaces.

Thanks again for your public service, and thanks in advance for what we hope will be your support of our Commissioner’s request that you enact our Committee’s Resident Permit Parking proposal (and the other safety recommendations).

Henry and Donna Rae Smith

Longboat Key

 

Village Life & Safety Issues

To: Henry Smith

Thank you for the email. I will carefully consider your request.

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

FDOT traffic plans

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Yesterday the Mayor and I participated in a call with the City of Sarasota Mayor, the City Manager, the FDOT District Secretary and his staff and consultants.  The main conversation was focused on the planned roundabout at US41 and Gulfstream.  The District Secretary of the FDOT indicated that this is a City project that the FDOT supports, and regardless of whether or not it is a roundabout or signalized intersection they will maintain it and operate it as efficiently as possible. At this point they said they are moving ahead with the project and the finalization of a Maintenance of Traffic Plan during construction.

The City did confirm that they have cancelled their April 6th Commission Meeting- that was the meeting that they originally included a public discussion item on Transportation.  Due to the Coronavirus event that meeting and/or discussion has not yet been rescheduled.

The FDOT reviewed their Maintenance of Traffic plans with both the City and the Town.  They indicated that their current MOT plan reflects a 550-day work schedule.  They said the 550 days includes approximately 100 days of work that would not impact traffic.  They have been working towards a June letting of the construction contract.

On the call they advised that they are pushing back the award of the construction contract to September.  They said the revised plan/schedule will now not have any lane closure impacts until post season of 2021 (April).  They also committed that no construction related activity that will impact lane closures would occur until all construction is completed for the 14th Street, 10th Street, and Fruitville Roundabouts.

The District Secretary indicated that he challenged his staff and consultants to come up with creative alternatives to the Maintenance of Traffic Plan factoring in two main goals.

  1. Minimize lane closure during season and
  2. Reduce the construction time frame.

They have identified a concept that they presented to the City and the Town that they want some pretty quick feedback on.  They said they are still verifying the schedule but believe it could reduce construction time by approximately 100 days.  The concept would create a continuous loop for traffic ingress and egress from the barrier islands during the construction phase.  They believe this concept would function as well if not better than the current triple left intersection during the construction period.  There are some considerations from the City’s perspective.  It would restrict and/or close some movement at Palm and Main Street, eliminate a number of parking spaces at the Marina, and restrict a left turn movement at the Golden Gate intersection.  The City brought up the idea of a temporary pedestrian walk over in the area of Main St. as a way to assist pedestrians during construction and also gauge the effectiveness of a cross over longer term.

The FDOT has asked the City staff to review the concept and provide feedback within the next couple of weeks.  They will also be sending a copy of the concept for the Town to review.  I will forward it to the Commission when we receive.

The District Secretary has also asked that his staff also verify schedule options for both a day time construction approach and a 24/7 construction approach.

The Town did make the City and FDOT aware of the Commission’s discussion and direction at their last meeting to pursue delay and reconsideration of the roundabout and that the Town Attorney has been directed to identify outside counsel for possible legal action. We will be scheduling a follow-up discussion with the FDOT and the City after they receive staff feedback.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Town of Longboat Key’s Declaration of a Local State of Emergency

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

As you all know, COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented times.  Each day this week there have been one or more new developments at the state and national level relating to the pandemic.  This week, after preparing and finalizing Resolution 2020-06 for your consideration at the Statutory Meeting on March 23,  two (2) additional Executive Orders were issued by Governor DeSantis.   While all of the Governor’s Executive Orders are important, yesterday’s Executive Order  20-69 coupled with Attorney General Opinion 2020-03 has afforded the Town Commission with a telephonic and video meeting option during the COVID-19 emergency, that was not available earlier this week.  For that reason, the Town Manager and I have revised the Town’s Emergency Declaration Resolution 2020-06 to include the newest Executive Orders as well as other considerations that have emerged since the prior version of Resolution 2020-06 was circulated. The revised version of Resolution 2020-06 will be presented at Monday’s statutory meeting.

The changes reflected in  revised Resolution 2020-06 are as follows:

  • The Governor’s Executive Orders 20-69 and 20-71 have been referenced and incorporated into the recitals;
  • Attorney General Moody’s Opinion 2020-03 has been referenced and incorporated into the recitals;
  • Two new recitals were added to address COVID-19’s impact on property and adverse damages caused to residents, businesses and visitors from closures and emergency actions. Several local governments are incorporating statements like this into  their Declaration’s  Whereas clauses at the request of businesses and property owners. It is anticipated that individuals and businesses may pursue property insurance claims and/or business interruption claims, and the thought is that a statement like this in a local Declaration may assist the claimants in their pursuit;
  • A new Section 7 was added to the Resolution to waive any Town Code, Charter or Resolution requirements for a physical quorum to be present to conduct a meeting.  The Governor’s Executive Order 20-69 waived the statutory quorum requirements only and this new provision waives any quorum requirement in the Town’s local laws; and
  • A new Section 8 was added to the Resolution to reaffirm that the provisions set forth in this emergency declaration are only applicable during the declared local, state and national emergency caused by COVID-19.

All other provisions that were previously within Resolution 2020-06 remain the same.   A copy of the attached Resolution with  tracking to reflect the changes is attached for your review.  The Town Manager will be distributing a revised agenda this afternoon that incorporates these changes into a revised Resolution (untracked) in your agenda packet.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding these revisions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

LBK Town Commission Meeting Resolution 2020-06

To: Longboat Key Town Attorney Maggie Mooney

Some thoughts on the 2020-06 resolution: 1. It seems from Trish’s March 17 memo that LBK is deemed to be in a state of emergency without need to declare one when our Counti(es) have declared an emergency, as they have.  Is this correct?  2. The third and fourth Whereas clauses of the Resolution refer to the Town’s “Emergency Management Plan” and the Town Manager’s powers under Art. III, Section IV of the Charter and Chapter 159 of our Ordinances.  I can find no reference to an Emergency Management Plan in our Code.  Is there one?  Also, the only references to “emergency” I see in our Charter seem to relate to Emergency Meetings to be called by the Mayor or Manager and Emergency Measures to be taken by the Commission. Even then, the only powers delegated to the Manager under Chapter 159 seem to relate to post-disaster redevelopment, and only after “every reasonable effort” is made to hold an emergency Commission meeting.  (159.06A).  3. Section 5 of the Resolution then acknowledges a limited power in the Manager to “cancel public meetings conducted at town hall”.

The sum of all this, combined with the recent Executive Orders allowing telephonic meetings, leaves me wondering what we are accomplishing by this Resolution and whether any material authority is being delegated to the Manager in the absence of post-disaster development or (now) any impediment to regular meetings of the Commission and other public bodies.  I think this is an especially important question under present circumstances where there is no disaster requiring redevelopment, but where the “emergency” may extend for some time.

That said, I think it is important for the Manager to have considerable authority to exercise police powers to maintain the health and safety of our residents. Either he has that already or, perhaps, a special resolution is needed to clarify what he can and cannot do while continuing the active role of the Commission in important decisions.

Last issue:  What are we waiving under Resolution Section 3 regarding Section 252.38(3) of the Florida Statutes; and why should we waive the procedures under our Code 38.25, allowing the manager to make emergency purchases; or our Code 159.06 that applies to disaster redevelopment? Sorry for all this so late, but it’s a little crazy everywhere.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

LBK Town Commission Meeting Resolution 2020-06

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Thank you for your email and the phone call to discuss your concerns and suggestions.  I will address each of the questions/ issues you raised individually.

Question 1.  It seems from Trish’s March 17 memo that LBK is deemed to be in a state of emergency without need to declare one when our County(ies) have declared an emergency, as they have. Is this correct?

Response 1: You are correct, we did not “declare” the emergency because we are relying on our interlocal with Sarasota County and the state’s email (dated 3/17) that the emergency is deemed declared.  We are really “affirming” that we are (and have been) in a state of emergency based upon the actions of Sarasota County and the state. For this reason, I would suggest additional language be added to the last “Whereas” and Section 2 of Resolution 2020-06 (as revised):

WHEREAS, the purpose of this Resolution is to affirm the Town’s local state of emergency and to recognize the Town Manger’s authority to implement the Town’s Plan and authorize all Town officers, employees, and agents to perform their respective duties, functions, and obligations as set forth in such Plan, the State Emergency Management Act and the Statewide Mutual Aid Agreement, and all other legal authority, under the general direction and control of the Incident Commander, as set forth in such Plan and applicable law.

SECTION 2.   A State of Local Emergency was declared by Sarasota County as of March 15, 2020 and through our Interlocal Agreement the Town falls under the direction of their Emergency Management Officials. The Town hereby affirms the local state of emergency applies within the Town of Longboat Key.

Question:  2.  The third and fourth Whereas clauses of the Resolution refer to the Town’s “Emergency Management Plan”  and the Town Manager’s powers under Art. III, Section IV of the Charter and Chapter 159 of our Ordinances.  I can find no reference to an Emergency Management Plan in our Code.  Is there one?  Also, the only references to “emergency” I see in our Charter seem to relate to Emergency Meetings to be called by the Mayor or Manager and Emergency Measures to be taken by the Commission. Even then, the only powers delegated to the Manager under Chapter 159 seem to relate to post-disaster redevelopment, and only after “every reasonable effort” is made to hold an emergency Commission meeting.  (159.06A).

Response 2: The Town’s Emergency Management Plan is an internal, operational document that is not adopted by  Code, Charter or Resolution.  It is the Town’s operational and organizational plan is utilized by the Town Manager (as the Town’s Chief Administrator and head of all public safety) to create incident commands and respond to all emergency situations (hurricanes, natural disasters, etc.)  It is exempt under applicable laws as its disclosure and release would pose a security risk for the Town’s response.

  1. Section 5 of the Resolution then acknowledges a limited power in the Manager to “cancel public meetings conducted at town hall”.

Response 3: You are correct that under the Town’s Code and Charter there are limited references to emergencies and that the Town Commission may hold emergency Commission meetings.   Nothing in Resolution 2020-06 (as revised) was intended to hinder the ability to call emergency or special meetings.  The sole purpose of Section 5 was to give the Town Manager the authority to cancel all previously scheduled regular meetings (and workshops) that were slated to occur at Town Hall at specific times and dates during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic regardless of whether they can occur by phone/video conferencing. There are many reasons for this delegation of authority and a couple of the examples we discussed include:

(1) the need to work through how public meetings will function to allow the Town Commission to participate through telephonic/videoconferencing and provide the public an ability participate in the meeting as required under the Sunshine law; (2) to address the cancellation or postponement of non-Commission meetings (PZB, ZBA, Pension Board) ;

(3) to address a scenario where four members of the Town Commission cannot make the quorum requirement even using telephonic/videoconferencing capabilities(due to illness or unavailability, etc.); and/or

(4) to address a scenario where preparing for and conducting a Town Commission workshop meeting on policy matters may not be the highest priority for the Town Manager and his staff while they address public safety issues during the pandemic response.

There are so many unknowns right now the Resolution was intended to provide flexibility during these uncertain times.  It is not to say that the Town Manager will cancel all of the meetings,  it just gives him the ability to “take the foot off the gas” on these regularly noticed meetings/workshop dates and times (if he needs to).

As we discussed, there is nothing in the Resolution that prevents the scheduling of  Town Commission special meetings (which are any Town Commission meeting on a date other than a regular meeting date/time) or emergency meetings both of which can now occur through telephonic and/or video conferencing means.    We can include additional language in the last sentence in Section 5 of  Resolution 2020-06 to clarify this point.   The language I would suggest is highlighted below:

SECTION 5.  The Town Commission hereby acknowledges the Town Manager’s authority to make emergency decisions in the best interest of the Town and its residents throughout the duration of the declared County, State, and National emergency on the subject of cancelling public meetings conducted at Town Hall including, but not limited to, meetings of the Town Commission, Planning & Zoning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustments, Special Magistrate over code enforcement matters, Pension Board and any other committees meetings that may have been previously scheduled to occur.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing herein shall prevent the scheduling of special or emergency meetings of the Town Commission by telephonic and/or videoconferencing means in accordance the Governor’s Executive Order Number 20-69.

Question 4/Last issue:  What are we waiving under Resolution Section 3 regarding Section 252.38(3) of the Florida Statutes; and why should we waive the procedures under our Code 38.25, allowing the manager to make emergency purchases; or our Code 159.06 that applies to disaster redevelopment?

As we discussed, these are not a waiver of procedures set forth in the Town’s Code.  This Section provides that the provisions in Section 252.38(3), Fla. Stat, and Sections 38.25 and 159.06 of Town Code shall be applicable, in that all of these cite sections (Florida Statutes and Town Code) allow for the wavier of the normal procurement requirements during times of emergency.

I hope this explanation helps. By way of copy, I am cc-ing the entire Town Commission in case they had any of the same concerns or questions about Resolution 2020-06 (as revised).  Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

Temporary allowance for directional signage for restaurants

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

With the recent direction from the State of Florida regarding restaurants and the encourage of establishing take out services the Town has issued guidance to our local restaurants regarding temporary directional signage. Our Code provides the ability to address signs on a temporary basis during an emergency. See update below and attached.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Temporary allowance for directional signage for restaurants

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Per our earlier discussion, please find a copy of my interpretation of Town Code, applicable to local restaurants impacted by Executive Order 20-68.  I am issuing this provisional Sign Code interpretation, that temporary directional restaurant signage, for temporary drive-up service, will be permitted as an “Authorized Sign” pursuant to Town Code Secs. 156.04(A), (B). This will allow restaurants to post slightly larger (2 sq. ft, compared to 1 sq. ft.) temporary directional signage to assist patrons who may be using a restaurant’s temporary food pick-up location, rather than dining in.

Any temporary signs posted during the time Executive Order 20-68 is effective, will be required to be removed by the property owner no more than five days after the Executive Order expires. I will work on getting this notice out to all restaurants within the Town.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Beach walking not illegal
To: Mayor Ken Schneier

I am going to go take a long walk on an empty Longboat Key beach across the street today. It is the only calming, therapeutic activity a senior like me can do these days. If a police officer stops me, I am going to politely ask him or her what law I am breaking?  There isn’t one. The County or Town can’t just order it unless Marshal Law is imposed. It is still okay to walk down the street and chat with neighbors right? Maybe not for long. Our Longboat Key beach is obviously not a Spring Break hot spot to say the least.
I am sick and tired of over bearing government telling us what to do or these days what not to do.  It is frightening what we are experiencing due to a flu epidemic with less than a thousand deaths out of 325,000,000 population, as sad as that is. Forty-thousand plus deaths from the usual flu type A and B viruses this season and we hear crickets. Life goes on, washing our hands etc. as it has forever.
Older folks, like myself, can easily self sequester for awhile and practice self distancing and hygiene to protect myself.  What is wrong with that? Individual responsibility.
This is nothing “disaster” is nothing more than politics, political correctness on steroids and individual virtue signaling by Federal, State and Local Government officials in addition to well meaning medical people dedicated to “do no harm”.  Unfortunately there is harm in life and we live with it.
We don’t “burn the house down to kill the termites.”  These well intended government driven attempts to eliminate all virus death, which is impossible, is leading us toward the self destruction of our economy, country and causing far more human misery than the virus right before our very eyes. This is not the Plague. Virus therapeutics are already here with a vaccine near.
“The cure is worse than the disease” and our adversaries are smiling.
The loss of our Liberty could be our final destination in all this. Please think about it.
Bob Gault
Longboat Key

 

Beach walking not illegal

To: Bob Gault

To be clear, while public access parking areas on Longboat Key have been closed, “Longboat Key residents, private property owners and their visitors will continue to be allowed to use the beach under current CDC guidelines” (regarding group size and social distancing). We have also urged condo associations, homeowner associations and other private residential groups to carefully consider whether to close, leave open or restrict the use of amenities on their premises in light of their individual circumstances. We strongly recommend that everyone check in regularly on longboatkey.org and review the current status of our local Covid-19 regulations in the red banner at the top of the home page.  We are counting on our citizens and visitors to continue to act responsibly and considerately during this crisis.
Ken Schneier
Mayor
Longboat Key

 

Beach walking not illegal

To: Longboat Mayor Ken Schneier

Thanks Ken, that wasn’t clear. Still worried about overkill, not a pun.
Bob Gault

Longboat Key

 

Town restaurant closings
To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

The town’s website on Corona mentions some, but not all of the restaurants that are providing to go service. Two that have been opened for several days are Blue Dolphin and the Ice Cream Shop next to Lazy Lobster.  I think we should check with the others before posting any list – this list we have is not accurate.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Town restaurant closings

To: Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thanks for the email. I understand the list was generated by the staff in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce after surveying the restaurants. I will verify and pass along the info so they can verify the type of services (curbside, delivery) and update the list.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Advise on quarantine
To: Longboat Key Town Commission

I moved here for safety from Peachtree City, GA. A very safe and upstanding community. I expect the town to deliver on the safety it promises residences and tax payers. I am separated and live here year round.
I have seen it from my condo management, the county, and now Longboat Key that we have no access to authorities. No public meetings in which to voice our concerns.
I request that this item be immediately put on a town agenda that is made accessible via internet and virtual meetings capabilities so that we can be heard.
Valerie Hale
Longboat Key

 

Advise on quarantine

To: Valerie Hale

I checked on the provisions made in Peachtree City, GA at this time and am happy to say that they are adhering to the same safety provisions we have put in place on Longboat Key. Our Town staff is working daily to meet the needs of the community while practicing safe social distancing. Our police, fire and rescue workers are on the streets every day in the front lines of the Virus. Please call them if you have an emergency need.
Staff is working diligently to make our Town Commission meetings accessible and safe. Our next meeting is April 6.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Advise on quarantine

To: Valerie Hale
Ms. Hale, our Fire Chief Paul Dezzi reached out to you to discuss your concerns. He serves as the Town’s Emergency Manager and is coordinating our response to the Coronavirus Emergency. I would encourage you to talk with him about your concerns and the actions that the Town is taking.
You did mention that you don’t have any access to Town Authorities. Your feedback to Commissioner Spoll was received by the Town Manager and our Fire Chief/Emergency Manager and shared with all of our Commissioners. Town Hall is closed for public walk-ins, but the public has access by phone, email and appointments as needed. We continue to provide services to the Community as best we can under the emergency conditions that exist.  Our Commission will continue to meet monthly and as necessary to address time sensitive issues.  For now, those public meetings will be remote/electronic based on the Governor’s Order.  Those meeting will always include a public comment component.
Thomas A. Harmer
Town Manager
Town of Longboat Key

 

Postponing P&Z Appointments

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

As a result of the COVID 19 emergency we previously cancelled the “meet and greet” with the Planning & Zoning Board applicants and the Commission appointments to that Board that were scheduled for the March 23rd Meeting.  There is no requirement to do a “meet and greet” but that has been a preferred method for the Commission for the past couple of years.  Prior to that process Commissioners relied on personal knowledge and one on one calls from Commissioners to the applicants if they had any questions about their interest or background. During this emergency collective interviews would be very difficult.

There are two openings on the Board and 8 applicants.  One of the upcoming vacancies is the seat vacated by Commissioner Bishop. The other is the seat held by David Green.  David has requested reappointment to that seat. Commissioner Bishop’s former seat is vacant and Mr. Green’s current term expires May 13, 2020.

The Planning & Zoning Board meeting for March was cancelled and the April meeting may also be cancelled. There are several private applications in the pipeline that the Planning & Zoning Board will need to hear in addition to several Town initiated code changes working their way through the process. We are considering remote meetings as necessary to safely facilitate their upcoming agenda items as we look out to May. There are additional considerations during quasi-judicial proceedings (relating to the submission of evidence) that we will be worked through which may require further adjustments to the anticipated schedule.

In an effort to fill the vacant positions we have placed the appointment of Board members on your April 6th Regular Meeting. Their applications and contact information will be included in the agenda information and I have also attached it to this email.

At the Commission’s April 6th meeting you may decide to fill one or both positions or decide to delay any formal appointments at this time.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Interpretation of Town Code on allowances for directional signage for restaurants

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

On March 17, 2020, the Office of the Governor issued Executive Order Number 20-68, associated with the Public Health Emergency (Executive Order Number 20-51) from the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Executive Order 20-68 authorizes the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to direct restaurants to: limit occupancy to 50% of current building occupancy; and ensure, at minimum, a 6-foot distance between any groups of patrons and limiting parties to no more than 10 individuals. To protect the public, health, safety and welfare during this emergency, the above referenced Executive Order also encouraged restaurants to provide food via take out, rather than dining-in.

At the request of local restaurants impacted by Executive Order 20-68, I am issuing this provisional Sign Code interpretation, that temporary directional restaurant signage, for temporary drive-up service, is permitted as an “Authorized Sign” pursuant to Town Code Secs. 156.04(A), (B). This provisional Sign Code interpretation is associated with a state directive and Executive Order and is a necessary measure to protect the public safety and serves a compelling government interest. This provisional Sign Code interpretation shall allow a limited number of temporary directional signage displays for restaurants and the public while Executive Order 20-68 is in effect. The temporary signage authorized under this interpretation shall not exceed the size limitations provided in Sec. 156.04(A).

“The maximum size of any such temporary sign shall be no larger than two square feet and shall not exceed four feet above the ground. Such temporary signs shall be located a minimum two feet inside the property boundary and may not include signs that are otherwise prohibited (per Town Code Sec. 156.03). Such temporary signs shall be removed upon the expiration of Executive Order 20-68.”

Any temporary signs posted during the time Executive Order 20-68 is effective, shall be removed by the property owner no more than five days after the Executive Order expires.
Paul Dezzi

Fire Chief

Town of Longboat Key

 

Town audit complete

To: Longboat Key Commission

The annual Financial Audit is complete. This covers the period from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019 (FY19). Hard copies for each Commissioner have been printed and are available in Town Hall for your review.

The audit did not identify any deficiencies in internal controls that were considered material weaknesses nor were there any instances of noncompliance or other matters.

A Federal and State single audit were not required as the Town did not expend in excess of $750,000 of federal expenditures or state financial assistance.

There were no findings or recommendations in the current or preceding annual financial report requiring correction.

I would like to recognize the Finance Director Sue Smith and the rest of the Finance Team for their efforts this year and the positive results reflected again in this year’s audit.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Status Update on Longbeach Village Parking

To: Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

Hi Allen. Thanks for forwarding your Longbeach Village Status Update packet dated March 17, 2020 to us. We appreciate all your work on our behalf. Here are some comments from the Village Parking Committee for your consideration.

  1. While ‘Resident-only Permit Parking Program’ gets included along with safety, we think it best to make RPP (Resident Permit Parking) and safety two discrete projects. We do believe that an RPP program will definitely improve safety; but we urge RPP to be the number 1 priority since it not only addresses safety but has the potential to return reasonable, commonly expected residential life to village residents in the form of safe passage on the streets, restoration of Village ambiance and historic charming character.
  2. RPP would:

Return the streets to being pedestrian, bicyclist and motorist friendly and restore a modicum of safety.

Allow residents, their visitors, health care workers, and property management services convenient and safer access to their Village residences.

Improve sight lines at intersections and driveways that would occur with the dramatic reduction of on-street parking.

  1. We were confident that Longbeach Village would meet the legality criteria since many towns in similar situations to our village have instituted RPP. Thanks to town attorney Maggie Mooney and you for confirming.
  2. Our on-street parking counts are similar to what is in your report. At peak hours of the day there are eight blocks, about 10 cars on each block, and usually 100% of the parking spaces taken on these eight blocks. We have been happy to see Shore employees using Whitney Plaza for parking. Broadway, Russell, Lois, and Poinsetta streets remain congested with restaurant parking during peak hours. As your report notes: “The Shore ownership indicated that it cannot compel its employees to park in those secured off-site parking spaces“. Nor can Shore rely on the permanence of the Whitney Plaza arrangement. We suspect employees will soon begin to park on the Village streets again since the Village streets are closer to their work location. RPP would ensure that Shore employees continue to use the leased Whitney Plaza parking spaces.
  3. We appreciate your inquiries and the commission’s request for our input. The most recent police report stated that on average there were 2513 vehicle trips per day on Broadway – and of these 1032 were speeding. Per day. As you noted we do not recommend stop signs and the ugly variety of speed bumps, but something needs to be done. We completely agree with your stated “longer term, more permanent features” to control the speeding on Broadway. Jogs and medians as you have shown would work well. Two bike lanes would be great also, but may not be appropriate with other road narrowing techniques such as bump-outs. We loved your picture of the small circle, but understand emergency vehicles, moving vans, and delivery trucks would have to be able to navigate it. Several of us have made u-turns at the Broadway intersections with an imaginary 12′ diameter decorative calming (speed table) circle, we were able to stay on the roadway without any backups and complete the u-turn. We do not foresee any need to cut into any town right-of-way or cut into any corner curbs, which you will notice are very old and in an extremely poor condition anyway should a few feet be needed.
  4. We are open to the safety paddle idea. The paddle for Broadway would need to be approximately 11′ from the north curb to be in the middle of the two travel lanes. Currently, the street is divided into three sections: 8′ of parking and 22′ for the two travel lanes. This off-center placement might prove awkward as many might be expecting the paddle to be in the middle, and on the crown, of the street. Lets test it out.
  5. We completely agree with your including:

“At that meeting the residents reiterated that their number one priority and request is to implement a Resident-only Parking Program (RPP) on all streets in the Village area. The residents believe implementation of a RPP would address their other previously noted concerns, such as site visibility at intersections and driveways, and requesting on-street parking setbacks from driveways at differing locations in the Village (e.g. along Russell Street).

Thank you for picking up on this.

  1. We recommend that you proceed with the RPP notions included in your report. The three drawbacks you noted would, we believe, all be acceptable to the Village residents.

We are willing to pay for the permits.

We suggest a guest placard of some sort to accommodate guests, visitors (e.g. home health aides), and property management services to homes.

Service, government, and emergency vehicles that are clearly marked should be exempt for the duration of their activity.

  1. Along with your given examples of RPP Plans, the MiraMar neighborhood opening statements regarding need and purpose might be a good example to use for our request for RPP in the Village. (Please note that even though MiraMar set up a ‘no parking but with exceptions’ ordinance, while we recommend Village wide RPP, the basic reasons are the same). Please see section 122-145 at this web site:

https://library.municode.com/fl/sarasota_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH122TRVE

We recommend drafting a Resident Permit Parking ordinance so that the commissioners can begin to understand the details, scope, and how it would work.

  1. Regarding Fire Chief Paul Dezzi’s memorandum – We are not sure how much room a firetruck or emergency vehicle requires and we will not belabor this point as RPP would likely greatly minimize the risk, but we suspect that when Russell, which is 23′ 2” wide, is lined with 25 parked cars at peak times that an emergency vehicle is not able to pass another vehicle traveling on this street. Thus, one vehicle would be required to back up until an opening is found. Witnesses have reported FedX truck meets large food tractor-trailer at east end of Russell; the larger truck could not back up requiring the FedX driver to back up westerly to past Pointsetta, where the long delivery truck turned south. Such observations are not reported to Police, as they resolve themselves. But they point to possible critical delay for emergency vehicle in response time when dealing with our very narrow streets.

Thank you Allen for your work on this important project. We would appreciate if we can make some progress even in these unsettled times. Please advise if we can help in any way to move this project forward.

Longbeach Village Parking Committee

Michael Drake – Longboat Drive South

Cindy Fischer – Linley

Steve Garrod – Russell

Bob Lopez – Broadway

Patti Lopez – Broadway

Bob McRea – Hughes

Jill Nemeth – Cedar

Joe Nemeth – Cedar

Becky Parrish – Hughes

Ben Parrish – Hughes

Carla Rowan – Broadway

Pete Rowan – Broadway

Henry Smith – Linley

Peg Stanton – Longboat Drive East

Madeline Stewart – Hughes

 

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