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Editorial Letters – Week ending June 26, 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.

Feasibility of sand management

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I wish to ask the town to avail itself of the up to 75 percent state participation for inlet management studies and projects, including “sand transport”, which I believe could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Before spending millions on unproven near-inlet groins, why not honestly research the feasibility of continuous sand management at both ends of the island at the passes and adjacent beaches. What is there to lose by being informed and making intelligent decisions?

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town code

To: Longboat Key Commission

We oppose changing the present restrictions to lightning rod height and daylight plane angles.

We have been residents of Longboat Key for over 9 years and presently reside at Yardarm.

If a resident or builder needs relief on either of these height or bulk restrictions they should be

required to request a variance as has been the process in the past.

Keith and Penny Pozulp

Longboat Key

 

Mandatory masks

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Based on these extremely alarming numbers I think we must be prepared at Monday’s meeting to do what Holmes Beach has done and institute mandatory masks inside businesses on Longboat Key. We should be prepared to have emergency date to institute before July 4. This is no different than seat belts and no smoking laws. Hopefully we will have same result in saving lives.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Too many pages

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Eight-hundred plus pages with an additional notebook from an applicant of several hundred pages is not a feasible package for any commission to absorb in five days. I would hope a summary of the copious amount of paper would be available to the Commissioners.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town code

To: Longboat Key Commission

Two Important Proposed Code Changes

1. Building Height Code and

2. Daylight Sight Angle Code

We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height and bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

1. Building Height Code Change

The height issue began with a house in Country Club Shores seeking to add a tall 16’ lightning rod and is now asking for a town wide code change. Rather than build in conformity with codes, or ask for a variance, the owner is trying to change the building height code for the entire island to allow these tall lightning rods. This code change now heads to the full commission on June 30. The proposed ordinance is for:

Single and two family units – the height of the lightning rods is up to 6 feet and may be increased by Special Exception to 16 feet over the present maximum building height.

Greater than two family units (any commercial structure or condo or apartment building of 3 or more units) – the height of the lightning rods is up to 16 feet over the present maximum building height.

For example, a cluster of small buildings at ground level, each with 4 units, each building could have an added 16’ tower that would have the appearance of small cell phone towers on top. This just shouldn’t be allowed. Variances might allow even taller towers. Reportedly, the Ben Franklin 10-inch lightning rods protect property as well as the much taller rods. Allowing this island wide code change chips away at the height limits for residential single-family homes which is especially intrusive on smaller lots. No other neighboring municipality, county, or even the State, have lightning protection codes.

While we understand and support lightning rods, as they are a safety item, they should be installed within existing height limitations. We see no reason to change the height limits since all research we have seen shows that lightning rods of only 10 inches have proven to be long enough and just as effective. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process. We voted for undergrounding and were against cell towers because we desired a clear sky; let’s not mar the sky and defeat that goal with lightning rod towers.

2. Daylight Sight Angle Code Change

The angle of daylight code addresses the shadow cast on a home by a neighboring building and the effect of FEMA height requirements for new homes that are to be built close to older homes which are often at grade level and on smaller lots. This proposed code change, however, increases the angle from 50 or 62 degrees to 75 degrees, and even though measured at a higher elevation, it makes the problem significantly worse. In the past, homes would be designed so there wasn’t a straight 2 story wall close to the lot line so the shadow did not cast very far onto a neighboring home. With the angle change, the new home could be closer to the lot line and straight up, casting a larger shadow and loom over a neighbor even more. In our Longboat neighborhoods, many homes are low, on grade, original structures – these properties should be protected with the existing code and not made worse with this proposed code change. We can send you details and pictures that are in a file upon request.

Larry Leszczynski

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding information

To: Dorothy O’Brien

The surveyors came by this morning and seemed to be putting stakes with “RW” (we assume ‘right of way’) astonishingly far up on our property.  We had understood that the undergrounding lines would be laid on the other side of the street.  Did we misunderstand? Any update would be much appreciated.  I will also talk with Tom Harmer the next time I see him and let you know if he has any ‘new news’.

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding information

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

My understanding is that the underground moves back and forth across Longboat Club Road. I am surprised they show it on your side of street but it could be that the utility markings across from you make it extremely difficult to underground on the Gulf/west side of the road?  When I asked undergrounding is on south side of road near main entrance, then moves to north/east side of road then moves back to south/west side, returns to east side of road, crosses again  and finally leaves on at north entrance on north side of road.  Decision is influenced by utilities…

Any information you get is most appreciated.

Dorothy O’Brien

Longboat Key

 

All current antennas and satellite dishes in CCS

To: Longboat Key Commission

I would like to submit the attached list and pictures from a survey of CCS to be included in the record for the Town Commission Meeting scheduled for June 30, 2020. If you need the photos to be given to you on a thumb drive instead of by Google Drive, please let me know.

There are 29 devices including the dishes mounted on poles in the ground..  None of the above violate the 30 ft over FEMA height restrictions including the few that are mounted on eaves of FEMA homes. There are an additional three homes with PREVENTOR 2005 masts that violate height limits.

As you can see, our neighborhood has no need for any exception to the current height restrictions for single-family homes including the one for TV antennas and satellite dishes once the code violations of the three homes with Preventor 2005 masts are enforced.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

Florida Building Code

To: Longboat Key Commission

Please have this section (Section 2703) read into the Commission Meeting on June 30, 2020.  It is the Florida State lightning protection section of the code, to which Longboat’s building code adheres, that uses the National Fire Protection Association’s standard.  Exceptions are one- and two-family dwellings because of their low risk.  Other structures can be exempted if the Risk Assessment Guide in NFPA 780 indicates there is no need for a lightning protection system.

It is therefore unnecessary to consider augmenting the height limits for one- and two-story homes.

Knowing that the state building code mandates compliance with NFPA Standards for Lightning Protection Systems, I do not understand how Windemuller has been allowed to install the Preventor 2005 which does not meet those standards.  I think they are all code violations independent of the type structures they are on.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

Too Tall Lightening Rods

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor, it seems there is overwhelming support for upholding the current height and daylight plane codes. The science appears to indicate that far shorter lightning rods work, whereas the too tall rods have questionable scientific support. If an exception is made for this device, then the legal tail may wag the dog going forward.  Too many baseless exceptions may render the height code unenforceable, similar to what was a street setback ordinance with too many exceptions.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town code

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Mike Haycock

We are against changes to the existing height limits and the daylight plane.

Judith & Herbert Gofman

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town codes

To: Longboat Key Commission

Regarding two proposed code changes on your agenda for June 30th, I encourage you to

1) maintain the existing height limitation and not allow exceptions for lightning rods

2) maintain the daylight sight angle code and not allow more bulk closer to a property line.

Thank you for the time and energy you devote to Longboat Key.

Janet Bisset

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town codes

To: Longboat Key Commission

I have been a resident of Longboat Key, Florida for over 30 years. I recently became aware of two items which will be coming before your Board at the end of June, namely Building Height Code Changes and Daylight Sight Angle Code Changes.

My understanding is that an individual in Country Club Shores has applied to change the island wide codes because they wish to install a 16’ lightning rod. So my first question would be why on earth do you need a 16 foot lightning rod when all research seems to show that rods of only 10 inches have proven long enough and just as effective? Such a change to our codes would also necessitate changes to Daylight Sight Angle Codes. This seems to me to be a blatant attempt to change codes for future builders and has no real purpose otherwise.

I see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and I see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, this should be accomplished via the exception variance process and not through changing the Town’s codes.

Christine Killeen

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town codes

To: Longboat Key Commission

We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line.

If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

William and Bernadette

Longboat Key

 

Code changes

To: Longboat Key Commission

Please know that we do not support the code changes proposed for R4 and R6.

Owners have paid dearly, and waited patiently, for undergrounding to final get underway. These code changes swap-out one important improvement with potential ‘eye sores’ of equal, if not greater, magnitude. Don’t do it!

Denise Creedon and Steve Madva

Longboat Key

 

The LPS Standard HBP-21

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Commissioner Bishop, thanks for the email. I shared it with Allen and our Fire Chief so they can review.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town code

To: Longboat Key Commission

We see no reason to change the Town Codes that would allow lightning rod exceptions  to the existing height limit and we see no reason to change the daylight  plane angles that would allow more  bulk  closer to  a property line . If there is  an unusual case   that requires special  treatment that necessitates adding  height  or bulk, this should be accomplished   via the exception variance process.

Alfred and Elizabeth Riedinger

Longboat Key

 

Weekend Trash Overflow

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I am a volunteer with the Longboat Key Turtle Watch and walk a section of beach on the Sarasota side on Mondays. I picked up some beach trash and tried to deposit what I collected at the beach access point at 3475 Gulf of Mexico Drive. I was dismayed when I saw the overflow of trash that filled all the receptacles. So much trash. What are people bringing that they have too much to dispose of? I also don’t like to pick up trash and bottles that are strewn on the beach which is also a problem, but the turtle watch volunteers invariably bring a cloth bag to pick up beach trash. Property owners should be responsible.

What to do? I just wanted to report on what I found. I don’t always deposit the trash I collect at this location so I can’t speak for other occasions when the trash cans may, or may not be, overflowing.

Larry Grossman

Sarasota

 

Weekend trash overflow

To: Larry Grossman

Thanks, Larry.  We’ve had several reports of trash on and around the beaches recently and are looking into it.  Not acceptable.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) Lightning Protection Systems

To: John Wilson

I received the materials (in 3 separate E-mail messages, including this one). It appears that you and your neighbors would like me to evaluate the proposed LPS and provide info on the existing alternatives. I could certainly do that, but I am not sure if my consulting fee would be acceptable for you. Without going into a contractual agreement, I can say that the proposed system is not recognized by standards, nor by the scientific community. Standardized systems for residential buildings generally employ multiple short rods (not a single tall one). The rod height in standardized systems is independent of roof square footage: you just need more rods for a larger roof. I can also give you reference to the lightning protection standard, where all the details can be found. In case you do want to hire me as a consultant, I attach my CV (short and long versions) and Fee Schedule.

Vladimir A. Rakov

Professor and Co-Director of ICLRT

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Florida

 

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) Lightning Protection Systems

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I hope all is well. I had a follow up conversation with Professor Rakov who would be willing to prepare a report and testify about lightning protection systems at your next Zoom meeting.  Would you be available for a brief call today or tomorrow to discuss?

John Wilson

Longboat Key

 

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) Lightning Protection Systems

To: John Wilson

I know Allen Parsons has done more research on the subject but have not seen his report or recommendations.  It seems like Dr. Rakov is proposed as an expert witness for the objectors, in which case I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to talk before the meeting.  In any event, I’m copying this response to Tom and Allen as a possible resource.  Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Health and safety on Longboat Key

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Our public access has turned into a health and safety hazard for residents.

Longboat Key Beach Access 100 Broadway was not made for such large influxes of people. It does not provide adequate safety precautions  or proper health and sanitation stations for the amount of individuals and families visiting.

There are no lifeguards for this mass of people who have inundated this beach access.

Cars were parked illegally blocking potential emergency service vehicles access, and owners of these vehicles felt that 30 dollar tickets were an acceptable fee for admission.

Dogs were seen defecating and romping on beach. People were seen defecating and urinating in dunes. Why is this sign and others posted upon entrance if they are not enforced?

Patti Lopez

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town codes

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

Roy and Virginia Nevans

Longboat Key

 

Health and safety of Longboat Key

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

It is with sincere and genuine concern that I am writing to you about questions I have concerning the Health and Safety of the residents of Longboat Key and visitors who come here.

These are things I have witnessed and have given me great concern over the past couple of weeks since the beach access has opened.  I am all for public beach access and everyone enjoying the beauty of a day at the beach, but I feel I am seeing train wreck waiting to happen.

Health issue concerns with an ever increasing beach population visiting LBK:

Let’s face it, on the weekend there isn’t any real social distancing going on.

Add in the fact that you have garbage piling up from Thursday to Monday at

all the beach access points.  Garbage overflowing from the containers, bags piled up on the ground and open scattering of trash.  There are fully loaded diapers, feminine hygiene products, soiled napkins with possible blood borne pathogens and then the regular food garbage, paper, plastic and alcoholic beverage containers.

If the trend of Covid-19 continues and the increases keep happening, wouldn’t it be prudent to empty the trash containers at the beach access points on a daily basis?  The flies and smell with the summer heat is not very pleasant.

Restrooms – there is only one public restroom facility on LBK for beach goers.  I walk the beach twice a day and I am asked that question all the time “Where are the bathrooms?”  I have witnessed my share of public urination and defecating at the beach access on Broadway.  I have seen public displays right on the beach, in the wooded areas by the crosswalk, in the dune areas.  I have seen people take their toilet paper up to the dunes.

I’ve seen the loaded diapers left behind.  I have witnessed a women urinating in the parking lot behind her car door leaving a giant puddle of urine for the next visitor to step in. That isn’t to count the public relieving themselves in the Gulf of Mexico.

So in these times when our beaches are flooded with people – should the town provide Public restrooms that are cleaned and maintained daily?  The media is reporting that early signs of outbreaks of Covid-19 will likely come from sewage treatment centers. At this rate I would hate to see it come from our beaches.

Life Guards – Last week there were notices sent out warning of dangerous rip currents.  With the increase of beachgoers to Longboat Key, is there a need to provide safety with Life Guards who can assist for potential emergencies?

General Patrol of the Beaches – This past weekend the parking to access beaches on Longboat Key was out of control.  I understand every access point was overflowing and some tickets were being written.  My neighbor told a visitor she was illegally parked and probably would get a ticket.  Her response “It’s ok – I talked to the cop – the ticket is only $30 and there is no towing”.  If you are tuned in to social media – you know that this information is being shared and the word it out – Park on Longboat Key – no towing!

Meanwhile to the north of us on Anna Maria and Holmes Beach, social media was a buzz warning people of towing and tickets. The clampdown of illegal parking is pushing the public this way because word is out – no towing and no tickets!

Whitney Plaza has become a public parking lot and beach goers and cutting through the Condos across the street. I have heard Country Club Shores is now experiencing overflow parking into their neighborhood.  One police officer told me they were even parking in the Public Works parking lot.  I was told no one is going to be towed because the officer has to wait for the tow truck.  What is the position of Longboat Key as far as enforcing parking throughout the island for all beach access points?

Alcohol – What’s the point in having a fancy big sign that says No Alcohol on the beach if no one is enforcing.  Everyone likes a nice cold libation in their cooler.  I’ve been guilty of having my Yeti full, but lately I’m witnessing full on bars set up. Tables with liquor bottles – visitors sitting on jet skis at the shore of the beach with glass bottles.  Judging by the amount of empty bottles and cans at all the garbage locations, this should be just erased off the sign.  Underage drinking…oh my.  That is just an accident waiting to happen. There is no visible patrolling – I have asked the police about this and was told they can’t ask to open a cooler.  So why is it even on the sign?

Dogs – Everyone would love to have their dog on the beach…there seems to be more and more dogs showing up. I read in Cops Corner “Officer called for dog on beach” – it’s probably someone calling because they follow the rules and don’t take their dog to the beach.

Joann Schwencke

Longboat Key

 

Health and safety of Longboat Key

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

I have forwarded and discussed the complaints with our Public Works and Police Department earlier today, especially those related to violations of our beach rules and trash. They will be updating me on their review and follow-up and we will respond back to Ms. Schwencke. I will keep the Commission informed of our follow-up.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Health and safety on Longboat Key

To: Longboat Key Commission

I wanted to pass along the Police Chief’s response to some concerns that the Town received after last weekend. See below. As mentioned in a previous email I have met with the Chief and Public Works Director to discuss the conditions this past weekend and review plans to address the concerns.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Health and safety concerns

To: Joann Schwencke

I received your email and wanted to reach out to address some of your concerns.  First, I want to agree with your assessment that our beaches and parking access lots have become almost unmanageable since restrictions were lifted.  It seems that there is significant pent-up demand by the public.  These issues are impacting the beaches to the north and south of us.  Anticipating this influx, several months ago the Town and the Police Department redistributed all available resources to what has been our most popular, and most visited beach destinations.  You’ve listed your concerns and I will try to at least touch on them in this email. However, I am available to discuss these with you by phone or in-person at a place and time of your convenience.

Regarding the town’s parking citations: the $30 fine has been the subject of much attention for more than a year and will very likely be reevaluated in the near future.  The notion that some will elect to pay $30 to park for a day at the beach is understandable and help justifies the needs to review our current penalty.  We are reviewing our current parking fine and will be making a recommendation to the Town Manage.

Parking in the Whitney Plaza, and in all other privately-owned parking lots is unenforceable; police cannot ticket or tow.  Any enforcement in these lots must be initiated by property owners.

Alcohol possession or consumption on LBK beaches is prohibited: Police Officers are directed to enforce all cases of alcohol possession appropriately.  That is, either addressing the violator to achieve compliance or arresting.  The 4th amendment precludes police from searching closed containers absent probable cause.  While the officers assigned to patrol the beaches are addressing and enforcing a number of alcohol violations they clearly cannot eradicate the problem, this is obvious by looking at trash left behind.      

Regarding dogs on the beach:  The Police Department receives several service calls concerning this each week, and we rarely issue citations.  Most violators are visitors and gladly comply by removing the animal once educated. Others claim “service animal” exemption, which requires no certification, licensing or special identifier.

Disturbing the peace:  This particular ordinance is subjective and misunderstood. Dropping off large numbers of people to walk onto the public beach is permitted.  Setting up tents is also permitted and social-distancing is strongly encouraged but not immediately enforceable.

The use of jet skis is permitted and they are also permitted to be beached while not in operation.  The restriction applies to reckless operation within 300 ft. of the beach.  If my Marine Officer witnesses this violation the operator will be cited.

Concerning the unmuffled section of the ordinance: Florida Fish Conservation and Wildlife Commission has enforcement responsibility to interpret and enforce “sound/noise” violations within the state.  Sound emitting from an outboard vessel motor can only be measured in decibels.  Currently the law regulating the decibel level cannot be enforced on watercraft.         

Weekends and especially holidays during the spring and summer months have historically been challenging for our beach community and Villagers relating to the number of visitors, additional parking impacts and pedestrian traffic.  The Town and the Police Department have proactively addressed these concerns by adding part-time and Reserve Officers while redeploying night-shift officers and requiring assigned overtime for others.  In addition, civilian Public Works employees have patrolled the beach during the pandemic supporting efforts by looking for potential violations or assisting the public in other ways.

This brief summary is offered as a conversation starter and an attempt to establish a rapport working towards improving matters and getting back to normal.  The Police department is resolved to continue work on these issues and ask that the public notify us when they see something they believe is in violation with our ordinances so we can document the complaint and respond appropriately. I look forward to discussing these issues with you directly.

Pete Cumming

Chief of Police

Longboat Key Police Department

 

Disturbing the Peace

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

The past few weekends a group of visitors have been setting up each Saturday and Sunday.  They come in and dump all members in their party with all the beach gear. They set up about 10-12 tents all along the North side access of the beach at Broadway entrance. The drivers then go and unload jet skis at the marine launch on Coquina and bring between 12-15 jet skis and a couple of boats. They anchor directory on the shore of the beach.  They jet ski all day in the area. The second day is happened I happened to be on the beach when the patrol officer had been called. I asked him a few questions about what was going on.

He said they had been called, but the people were “nice” people and weren’t doing anything wrong.  At that point a resident from the condo came running over and was frantic about how loud they were yesterday, and she couldn’t take it again today. There was no way anyone could relax and enjoy themselves with all the jets skis zooming in and out. Again, the police officer said they were nice people and nothing could be done. Later that day, I took a walk on the beach and noticed the noise and the riders of the jet skis were sitting on them drinking bottled beer. Pointless to call the police, because they were “nice” people.

I remembered an ordinance I thought was passed after jet skis were showing up at the Hilton.

Can you tell me if this applies for the residents along the beach and bay areas?

93.09 – Disturbing the peace from vessels.

No vessel shall be operated within the waters of the town with an outboard or inboard motor not having a properly muffled exhaust. No vessel shall be operated within the waters of the town so close to shore, or in any manner that the operation thereof disturbs the peace and tranquility. No operator of any vessel shall cause excessive noise. The following acts, among others, are declared to be disturbing to the peace of the town and in violation of this section, but shall not be deemed to be exclusive: The operation between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., of any power-equipped vessel within any manmade canal, bayou, lagoon, channel or waterway within the boundaries of the town, except when leaving a dock or returning to a dock.

(‘94 Code, § 93.03) (Ord. 95-22, passed 12-4-95)

(Ord. No. 2010-12, § 5, 4-5-10).

I completely understand the need for people to escape and enjoy a little freedom and sunshine and what better place than the beach. My concern is the ever rapidly increase in the amount of people showing up – Can the Town of Longboat Key provide the proper Heathy and Safety in this Covid-19 climate?  It is apparent the Town has limited staff and this might be time to prevent rather than fix.

Thank you for allowing me to share my concerns.  I love living on Longboat and want to see that we continue to provide a Safe and Healthy living environment for all concerned – residents and visitors. Attached are a couple of pictures – and an example of copy of a tweet this weekend from someone warning of towing on AMI. Social media is a powerful tool in spreading the word.

JoAnn Schwencke

Longboat Key

 

Don’t allow code changes

To: Longboat Key Commission

Thank you for your public service to our unique and wonderful paradise. Please do not approve the proposed change to current Town rules that would allow a special lightning rod exception to the existing building height limit.

Also, please do not approve the proposed change to current Town rules concerning daylight plane angles that would allow structures to be built closer to property lines than is currently allowed.

A very significant portion of the world-class charm of Longboat Key is the wonderful nature — and appropriately-scaled character — of our residential buildings and communities, and these proposed changes would degrade significantly that nature and character.

We very much appreciate the Commission’s vigilant efforts to protect the character of our Town, and we urge you to protect the precious interests of the many property owners who would be subject to being very negatively affected by these proposed changes.

Henry and Donna Rae Smith

Longboat Key

 

Don’t allow lightning rod exceptions to height restrictions

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

I refer to the current considerations relating to the application for exception of lightning rods from the existing height limit. We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

Torben Dal

Longboat Key

 

Food trucks block Village streets

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Today another illegally parked food truck delivering to Mar Vista blocked Lois south of Broadway for 25 minutes that I and others witnessed. The police were notified, but did not respond during that time period. The sanitation truck was stuck behind him, and actually wheeled dumpster to back of his truck, so he could complete his job!

Four cars had to divert themselves because they could not get through. Mar Vista employee removed the cones he used around food truck that was delivering, and spoke to arriving officer.

Officer declared truck was leaving when he arrived, so there was no violation. This is a reoccurring situation and is not a safe situation.

Patti Lopez

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town code

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

Pete & Peg Walker

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town code

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

As owners on Longboat Key, we are concerned by two applications that will be under consideration on June 30th, and would ask that our comments be taken into account.

We see no reason to change the tone codes to allow lightning rod extensions to the existing height limits. Neither do we see any reason to change the daylight plane angles that would add more bulk closer to the property line.

If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

Judy and Stephen Manley

Longboat Key

 

A question of masks

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Ken, I am writing to you as a friend, fellow senior citizen, and Mayor of our wonderful town of Longboat Key.

The last few times Charlotte and I were in Publix we were appalled at the lack of masks on the patrons (also one employee). It seemed that 75% of the people were without. I am surely profiling here, but it seemed that the unmasked were younger, most likely visitors (they were looking for the sunscreen).

We are all, young and old, susceptible to this potentially deadly virus. I firmly believe as a sensible person and a physician that distancing and masking will keep us safer.

I called Willie the manager at Publix and he told me that many Longboat Key residents feel as I do and there have been written complaints and perhaps even a petition regarding the use of masks. Since Publix does not have a policy within its corporation regarding masks there is nothing that he can do about it. He did tell me that if the town had an ordinance requiring masks he would have no choice but to enforce it. That means that if the town council would an issue an ordinance saying that if a store had more than 20 patrons they must be wearing masks he would gladly enforce it. I realize that masks seem to have become a political issue rather than a public health issue but there is no question that we are safer if everybody in the store wears a mask.

Phil Zweifach

Longboat Key

 

A question of masks

To: Phil Zweifach

I’ve had this issue come up a number of times.  Neither the State nor Sarasota County require masks in public locations and I’m not aware of any municipalities in Florida that do so.  We have asked Publix to require their customers to wear masks but they have declined.  While we allow businesses, HOA’s and condos associations to set more restrictive rules than required by law (and many have done so), and while we have been conservative in the opening of public facilities, we are not convinced we have the authority to require private enterprises to mask up and have been reluctant to be the only community to do so.

While Publix may have said they would happily enforce a mask ordinance, I suspect they would not be happy to turn away customers or deal with conflicts with people who need food.  I have also asked the public service organizations and others if they would be willing to hand out masks to mask-less customers at Publix, and they have so far declined. Meanwhile, the responsible among us wear masks at Publix (me) or use their curbside pickup option (Cynthia).

I hope you and Charlotte are doing well.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Longboat Key Town Commission, Town Manager Tom Harmer

Parking in the Longboat Key Village has been a continuing concern for many years. Many efforts to alleviate this issue, but problems remain. Thus far, the focus has been on the streets, but the steady reduction of on-street parking in some ways appears to have been detrimental to both the Villagers and the Restaurants.  The parking demand continues to exist, like a balloon full of air.  Squeeze it one way and it expands another.   It appears to be at the point where draconian steps may be considered and even implemented.  Some may love this.  Others will not.  Resident Only Parking appears to be the cause du jour, but the reality is that the streets are public property and publicly maintained, and its enactment may have unintended consequences.

Ideally, each Restaurant would have sufficient on-site parking to accommodate its customers, but they do not. Due to “grandfathering”, The Mar Vista and The Shore are required to comply only with woefully inadequate Codes existent at the time they sought occupancy, which they do.   If they had the space, they likely would gladly expand on-site parking, but they do not.  This leaves them with no alternative but to rely on off-site parking to meet their needs. Both Restaurants have taken or are taking steps in this direction.

The off-site spots are almost a mile from the Restaurants and will require valet shuttle or a long walk.  This inconvenience may have a dampening effect on their success.  Will customers choose to first venture down Broadway looking for a parking spot at or near the Restaurant before giving up and going to the remote sites? I suspect many, if not most, already do so and will continue to do so, thus adding to the traffic flow and keeping all street parking full anyway as a first choice.  I also suspect that on other occasions, customers may choose to dine elsewhere, because “eating at The Mar Vista or The Shore is too much of a hassle.” Although some may cherish the thought of the Restaurants ceasing to exist, I doubt that many, even in The Village, do.

Perhaps much of the solution for this situation lies with thinking “inside the box”.  The “box” being the Restaurant property itself, and Town controlled tangential property, notably adjacent required set-back areas. The Town controls the land adjacent to the streets and mandates a landscaped set-back for the businesses.  Such a landscaped setback is, however, not uniformly existent throughout the island.  Examples of business without a landscaping set-back appear to be:  Century 21 at the corner of Broadway and GMD, Cannon’s Marina, Harry’ Corner Store, Sandpiper Inn, The Trailer Parks, and The Michael Saunders/Swim City complex.

I absolutely do not advocate turning the Town controlled property abutting the Restaurants over to them, but it could be reconfigured as additional public parking, with limitations.

Per the Town Code, The Mar Vista is required to have 28 on-site parking spaces.  As counted on June 17, it has 30 spaces with 2 being Handicap spaces.  There are 3 curbside public parking spaces on Broadway in front of The Mar Vista and 9 curbside spaces on Lois alongside it. The current parking arrangement at The Mar Vista is as depicted in Attachment 1.

As depicted in Attachment 2, reconfiguration nearby on-street parking could create 25 public parking spots abutting The Mar Vista.  Because of their location, these spots would naturally serve as overflow parking for the Restaurants, but they would also remain open to the public, with No Parking Allowed Between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am, like the rest of Broadway.  The 9 on-street spaces on Lois would be eliminated, which would open that road for better traffic flow, but 6 would be gained back by moving them to the north side of Broadway across the street from The Mar Vista along with the 3 on-street spots now on the south side of Broadway in front of The Mar Vista.  This would limit the net loss of nearby on-street parking to 5 spots, with an overall net gain of 27 nearby parking spots. This is almost as many as the approximately 29 public parking spots now on Broadway, west of Lois.  Although not strictly on-site, this virtual doubling of nearby parking spots would place The Mar Vista close to the level of current Parking Code for new facilities.

Attachment 3 depicts the latest map available for The Shore.  Because the map was created in 2019, an on-site parking layout is not shown. The Shore is supposed to have 47 parking spaces per the Town Code.  There are rumors that several spots under the building are being incorrectly used for storage. If The Shore is not abiding by the Code, it is up to The Town to enforce it.

Because of its arrangement and proximity to Broadway, there is much less opportunity for The Shore, but there is some. Per Attachment 4, 5 of the 8 on-street parking spots on the south side of Broadway adjacent to The Shore could be moved a car’s width further south, encroaching into The Shore’s set-back area.  This would allow for 5 new sparking spots on the north side of Broadway, across from The Shore. They would line up with the 7 relocated parking spots across from The Mar Vista.  The total Mar Vista/Shore adjacent parking would be 32 new spots, all clustered near the Restaurants.  These new spots, along with the existing 29 spots west of Lois on Broadway could greatly mitigate many, if not most of the parking issues currently existing.

A side issue exacerbating the parking problems appears to rampant use (abuse?) by both Restaurants of extra seats without tables, allegedly for customer use while waiting for a “table”.  Customers use these seats for drinks AND small “tapas” type of nibbles.  It is my opinion that if food of any type is being served, a cluster of 4 seats receiving such service should be deemed as a “virtual” table and subject to the Town Parking Code.  I believe that the Town Attorney should carefully weigh such an interpretation.

Phill Younger

Planning and Zoning Board

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Planning and Zoning Board member Phill Younger

Thanks for this work. With near-unanimous support from Village residents, support from elsewhere in Town (and no objections), and no objections from the restaurants, I think our next step is to look at an RPP and take measures to implement it.  If employees do use the off-site lots and the restaurants make better use of their on-site spaces, we may have a successful solution.  If not, I’m sure your ideas will be in the mix.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Mask requirement should be a ‘No brainer’

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Why can’t the Commission require that everyone wear face masks? Now that tourists are here from all over, it is kind of scary going into Publix, a restaurant, the hardware store or even taking a walk. Due to the average age of the locals, I would think it is a “No Brainer” to order that masks be mandatory.

Audrey Bear

Longboat Key

 

Mask requirement should be a ‘No brainer’

To: Audrey Bear

Because of our high-risk population, Tom Harmer as our emergency manager has taken measured, conservative steps in re-opening the island within the boundaries set by the State and the counties.  As a result, we have had no infections reported on Longboat Key since March 20.

Having said that, I’m unaware of any locality in Florida that has required masks to be worn generally.  We recommend them and authorize businesses, HOA’s and condo associations to require them along with enforcing other appropriate steps they feel protect their members and customers.  We have asked Publix to require masks by their customers as well as their employees, but they have declined so far as a matter of corporate policy.

Please know that we review our policies constantly to see if they are appropriate for the circumstances as they change.  LBK residents have been very careful and considerate in their actions and we will continue to try to convince our visitors to do the same.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Mask requirement should be a ‘No brainer’

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Thanks for the response. See the article about Tampa and their new mask policy.  If they can do it, Longboat Key should do it.  Especially because Publix is so obstinate about protecting their regular customers.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/06/18/mayor-jane-castor-announces-mandatory-mask-order-for-tampa/

Again, this is a “No Brainer”.

Audrey Bear

Longboat Key

 

Mask requirement should be a ‘No brainer’

To: Audrey Bear

Given the pushback from Hillsborough County reflected in the article you sent and the fact that Tampa’s mayor stands alone in Florida on this issue, I think the one thing you can be sure of is that it’s not a “no brainer”.  Also, Tampa’s high infection rate is in stark contrast to our zero.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change town codes

To: Longboat Key Commission and Town Manager Tom Harmer

As property owners, although not within Country Club Shores, we try to stay aware and current of proposed code changes and decisions that affect all of Longboat Key. Regarding the two proposals:  Building Height Code and Daylight Sight Angle. We are opposed to both.

(1) Building Height Code:  After reading articles and news reports written over the last several years, tall, or long, lightning rod installation on homes seems to be quite out of date.  Current thought appears to be that one would need several long rods on a roof to actually be effective.  Imagine several 16 ft. tall rods on a roof, and then multiply that by however many homes whose owners decide it’s a good idea!  I rely on your imagination to help you make the right decision here.  Most reputable companies that install lightning rod protection report that the shorter rods 8 -10 “ will achieve the same result as the longer ones.

(2) Regarding the Daylight Sight Angle: Adding height or bulk to homes that cast a greater shadow and/or presence onto the adjacent properties would be detrimental to all of Longboat Key.  To degrade or eliminate the very things that create a charming and unique atmosphere to Longboat Key is foolhardy.  More shadow and a larger structure encroaching on a home obviously affects the ambience, comfort and beauty of that home, not to mention its resale value.  Original structures and even some newer one-story homes could be severely impacted by the change in the angle, (my understanding, up to a 25 degrees increase).  The newer larger home would dominate the smaller one by casting a very large shadow, devaluing the quality of life enjoyed there, as well as the monetary value.

We appreciate your willingness to serve the community and we know you will conscientiously consider these two proposals and future propositions affecting Longboat Key’s beauty, character and safety. Thank you for your consideration.

Donna and Robert Frederick

Longboat Key

 

Don’t change the town codes

To: Longboat Key Commission

We see no reason to change the town codes that would allow lighting rod exceptions to the existing height limit, and we see no reason to change the daylight plane angles that would allow more bulk closer to a property line. If there is an unusual case that requires special treatment, that necessitates adding height or bulk, we should be able to accomplish that via the exception variance process.

We need to keep the integrity of this special island. We will cease to be unique and beautiful if the height of lightning rods or the bulk of new homes and additions are made even higher and unsightly. Being an owner on the island I feel passing these two code changes will be detrimental to look and feel of the island. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider not making changes.

Cami Franz

Longboat Key

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