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Longboat Key
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Letters to the Editor week of April 22, 2022

Sand migration

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan

Maureen, a possible cause of the appearance of more sand inside the inlet, is the result of more sand being placed at the outer lip of the pass, to fill up the seven groins. Recall that 93 percent of the eroded sand enters inlets.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Our mangroves are under threat

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan

Manatee county is considering changes to its comprehensive plan that would weaken protections for mangroves… which are critically important for both water quality and storm/flood mitigation.   I would hope that the Town would add its voice in opposition to such a change. Hope to see you at tonight’s LB village meeting.

James G. Haft

Longboat Key

April P&Z Board Regular Meeting

Action & Recommendations

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

FYI- The P&Z Board this morning:

Approved (7-0) a Site Development Plan request to allow for commercial development of the currently vacant properties @ 3150 & 3120 GMD (north of Buttonwood Dr.) The properties are proposed to be developed with 14,408 s.f. of commercial development.

Recommended approval (7-0) of an Outline Development Plan & a Site Development Plan amendment applications, which, if approved by the Town Commission, would add 4 new private pickleball courts to the Harbourside Tennis Club in Bay Isles.  The Town Commission will have final approval authority on these applications, which are anticipated to be scheduled for their June 6th Regular Meeting.

Approved (7-0) Orders of Denial for the Courtney’s Lo-Key Restaurant (@ 5620 GMD), which was denied by the P&Z Board at their March 15th public hearing.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

April P&Z Board Regular Meeting

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Approved (7-0) a Site Development Plan request to allow for commercial development of the currently vacant properties @ 3150 & 3120 GMD (north of Buttonwood Dr.) The properties are proposed to be developed with 14,408 s.f. of commercial development.

Recommended approval (7-0) of an Outline Development Plan & a Site Development Plan amendment applications, which, if approved by the Town Commission, would add 4 new private pickleball courts to the Harbourside Tennis Club in Bay Isles.  The Town Commission will have final approval authority on these applications, which are anticipated to be scheduled for their June 6th Regular Meeting.

Approved (7-0) Orders of Denial for the Courtney’s Lo-Key Restaurant (@ 5620 GMD), which was denied by the P&Z Board at their March 15th public hearing.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Confirmation of a few details

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

The  Village just asked me to present an update at their meeting tomorrow, Wednesday night (4 pm) specifically focused on the plans to open (and prevent the closing of) the Greer island lagoon and next steps for the non-motorized vessel zone.

This is what I plan to report based on conversations yesterday.  If you have any updates beyond what I recall below please let me know.

Kayak zone – I have enough info to update them on efforts to date (forward, then backward, and forward again) with county and town.  Please confirm this will be discussed at the May 16th Commission workshop?

Yes, we are planning for an update at the May 16th Commission Workshop.  The recent update that I forwarded from Allen is still accurate

Greer cove – emergency permit applied for, budgeted and PW working to line up dredgers asap – with ideally the intent of digging wider and deeper.  Duncan Seawall did the last emergency dig, and as in the past, we should expect the area to be closed off for week or two when they do the work, stage equipment, etc.  Isaac/PW will keep neighbors/ LBK North updated.

Emergency spit removal permit has been applied for.  They will be limited on the length and depth of cut and will have to stockpile that sand in the area like they did before.  They are working on the contractor with our procurement staff so they can move forward quickly once the permit is received.   Contractor schedule hasn’t been finalize yet, last time it was a very short duration for them to complete the work.

The larger spit management plan, which should permanently address sand movement into the cove and growth of Greer via sand back passing, is in year 3 of permitting (and expecting approvals this summer?).  This spit project plan will be discussed at the June 6th Commission beach management update workshop.

Permit from Army Corps has now been received.  They have to complete the design template for the sand placement on the beach side as part of the FDEP permit requirements.  Once that is complete they will be sending out a solicitation for a contractor for that work- I don’t have a proposed schedule from the Department but yes, it will be part of the June 6th update.

Am getting calls from many of the 20 residents whose homes border the Greer cove expressing serious concern about what appears to be a more rapid closure of the cove and sand filling in the area within the cove .  Right now the cove is virtually closed to boats and, at very low tide, looks to be almost completely landlocked (creating concern for wildlife, waterfront property values, etc).   Believe the spit management plan, which can’t happen soon enough, is intended to address this in the future and get us out of the emergency permitting mode. Yes, the Spit Management Plan is set up to be an on-going as needed management of that area.

Maureen Merrigan

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Noise Ordinance

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan

Maureen, there are perhaps a majority of homeowners who actually hate the incessant yard and construction noise.

As another resident wrote to the commission, “this is the noisiest community I have ever lived in”. We have ten thousand lawn cuttings a month on Longboat.

To have spent time and effort rewriting our noise code, and purposely exclude the two main sources of noise in our community, begs the question,  what was accomplished? The new town code is in reality no better than the previous code for the great majority of our residents.

I think that adding a building permit requirement for a temporary FPL power pole at all new construction sites, to reduce gas generator and compressor pollution and noise, will reduce unnecessary noise more than all the changes in the new noise code put together.

Posting bilingual signs at all construction sites, about legal working hours and fines, will further reduce annoying construction site noise, and reduce costly and ineffective police involvement. Such signs would allow police to issue fines instead of useless warnings.

As for the tail wagging the dog, if the town mandates battery powered leaf blowers and trimmers, there will be many companies eager to invest in green equipment to have access to the lucrative Longboat Key lawn maintenance market. Why are we kowtowing to a couple of greedy small business owners at the expense of our residents?

If no one, and no communities, takes action, global warming will soon engulf us.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

Town Blood Drive, April 27

To: Town of Longboat Key Town Staff

Through SunCoast Blood Centers, the Town is sponsoring our second blood drive of 2022 on Wednesday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Town Hall.

This drive is for whole blood, and donation typically takes 15-30 minutes.

Donors will receive a $10 Publix gift card!

Donors also receive a FREE wellness check that includes checking blood pressure, pulse, temperature, iron count, and a cholesterol screening.

Lynn Curreli

Support Services Generalist

Town of Longboat Key

 

Noise pollution ordinance

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

On our noise pollution ordinance.

From my investigations, the current sound ordinance is considered copy and paste legislation, making the same mistakes other sound ordinances do. They are considered not enforceable or are unenforced. Our own has no meaningful application, defended in a legal setting, since the town has no device besides an app developed by the CDC for smart phones for this generalized purpose. This is regrettable, since the prior ordinance, despite its confusing legislative legalese, had merit for preventing noise pollution. But it required complaining.

The corrective going forward, to prevent new noise pollution from escaping permitting preview, is to require that sound production devices (pool equipment and air conditioning units, for instance) attached to buildings, be enclosed within that foundation footprint, or have an engineered and approved enclosure.

Noise pollution shouldn’t be dismissed as a widespread acceptable condition. That casual context for our lived expectations, is beguiling but wrong. Neighbor noise from pool motors, pipes and filters and air conditioner units are among the noises from our soundscape that are continuous and preventable but omitted from proper enforcement. Dogs don’t bark continuously, but enforcement time is measured, an anomaly in the town sound ordinance. If it was water or air pollution, the clarity and enforcement would be very practical and effective.

Partly, the new ordinance hardens the pollution problem. The point violation method of police response to a complaint, is not meaningful, nor is vegetation or a civil court complaint. Holmes Beach has a property line noise control method, and less decibels. If we want to control disturbing and preventable sound pressure waves, the first way is at the source, not the property line, or meter, or within next door house.

End part 1

Part 2

I look forward to any tweaking of the just passed sound ordinance, that it might build on the precedent law, and prevent town-sanctioned development that requires neighbors to complain about neighbors, to solve this dilemma.

We are lucky to have a well-organized and well-funded town that has an intense and intelligent citizenry to develop our collective will.

Next, we could all consider the light pollution that protects turtles but not residents.

D.D. Drew

Longboat Key

 

Noise pollution ordinance

To: D.D. Drew

Received two parts of a letter you sent to the town website that were re-directed to me.  In the future, please use the email address above and it should be easier for you to send and for me to respond.

If I am reading your letter correctly:

You disagree with measuring sound from one’s property line or a distance away (where we would hear it) and prefer it is measured from the source.

You would like the town to require that pool equipment and air conditioning units be enclosed and that these units should not be exempt, even if within manufacturer standards.

You think the current noise ordinance is not enforceable.

Let me follow-up to confirm a few things about our current ordinance with the Town Attorney.  Believe points 1 and 2 above were discussed a good bit already by the Commission.  We did consider Holmes Beach ordinance when we discussed the LBK ordinance.  As discussed, when I met with you a few weeks back, I am comfortable on where things settled with the ordinance language and have not heard other concerns (other than the complaints with gas leaf blowers and or gas construction generators).

Also am not aware we have issue with enforcement – but let me double check.

Maureen Merrigan

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

Broadway Street: Traffic Calming

To: Pete Rowan

Just an update: the Town is working on getting a scope and fee from one of our engineering consultants, Kimley-Horn and Associates, to do a high-level overview of potential traffic calming options for Broadway Street with preliminary budget numbers.  If the scope and fee look favorable, we will plan on moving forward.  Once we get that in place, we can meet to go over that scope and/or progress on that effort.  As such, we are not planning on having another meeting with the traffic calming committee right now until we have that work agreement in place and moving forward, again, as long as pricing is favorable. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

Broadway Street: Traffic Calming

To: Longboat Key Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

Hi Isaac.   Thanks very much for pursuing this for our neighborhood.  We look forward to what you and Kimley-Horn come up with.  Speeders  seem to have become increasingly hostile when we indicate that they should slow their speed.  Almost all cars need to slow down, but that 10-20% that are really ripping need traffic calming that is self-enforcing.

Here is a Kimley-Horn link on neighborhood traffic circles that our traffic calming committee has used and that you might already have seen:

https://www.nctcog.org/nctcg/media/Environment-and-Development/Documents/Public%20Works/Roundup/2019PWR-MiniRAB-FINAL.pdf

Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Pete & Carla Rowan

Longboat Key

Isolated Wastewater Overflow Issue

To: Longboat Key Commission

I was notified by our utility staff of a sewer malfunction at Lift Station C earlier today. See note below.

They have addressed the issue and will be following with any customers that have been impacted. The general service area for this portion of the system is on the north end between General Harris south to Emerald Harbor.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Isolated Wastewater Overflow Issue

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

We were contact by Rich Raymond manager of Church property at GMD General Harris that wastewater was coming out of their manhole and we had staff on the island and he found Lift Station C electrical break tripped causing pumps to shut off. He rest breaker and pumped down the system.

He further investigated and found two more manholes also overflowed (Dream Island and Edlee Ln.). Crew cleaned up ponding wastewater and disinfected areas. They completed clean up around noon.

We received call from Rich Raymond and Cannon Mariana stating that they had backups in there building. I’m meeting with owner of Cannon’s on Monday.

They were advised to hire someone to clean and submit invoice to me and I’ll pay them.

We might receive more residents calling with similar issues and we will address them.

I have filled all overflow reports to the State.

Bert Warner

Public Works Department

Longboat Key

 

Isolated Wastewater Overflow Issue

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Would like to know what caused the breaker to be tripped and if it is an isolated event or if it can recur. Also, why didn’t the shut down cause an alert to PW.  Finally, was all the spill contained or did any reach stormwater.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Isolated Wastewater Overflow Issue

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor, thanks for the email. Public Works is following up on what occurred this weekend. I have asked that they send me some additional background information on Monday that should address your questions. I will forward that to the Commission when I receive it.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Isolated Wastewater Overflow Issue

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Here is some additional information about the Town’s wastewater collection system and this event:

Yes, the Town wastewater collections system includes multiple alert and alarm systems, including power failure and high level alarms.  These alarms go directly to the smart phones of our utility personnel.

The Town also checks lift stations weekly, monthly and quarterly, with the quarterly check being the most involved.  We just completed the quarterly check recently and everything was good at this Lift Station.

Every lift station is also outfitted with surge protection from the FPL voltage coming in.

In this case, the breaker went out and was non-functional, but also the Program Logic Controller (“PLC”) went out as well, which is part of the communications system.  It checked out fine last week, so not sure if a surge occurred that overcame the surge protection, or happened internally, or other.  The breaker and PLC were both replaced on Saturday morning and the all other systems were checked and are being re-checked since Saturday.

We did not receive our typical communication alarms, which we believe was related to the PLC; we are still working on diagnosing that to see if there is anything else we can determine on that end.  This is a very unusual case, and not sure exactly what happened to the breaker and PLC.  We are making a programming adjustment on the PLC/Communications side that will help in the future as well.

There are a lot of electronics that run our stations and, as such, our stations are regularly checked and optimally maintained, are normally very reliable with operations and communications, redundant, and set up with alarm systems that alert our staff on a regular basis if something needs checked.  This seems to be a fluke that we cannot explain at this point, but have corrected the broken components and everything is operational again.

In total, the overflow was about 600 gallons.  The vast majority was contained, vacuumed, cleaned and areas disinfected (lime in vegetated areas, bleach on hard surfaces).  A small amount entered a swale and was contained within the swale and vacuumed.  A very minimal amount made it to a boat ramp.  We are coordinating and consulting with our environmental consultant ESA, but it was negligible and do not expect any needed follow-up to that. Please let me know if you need anything else at this time.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

New sign a source of confusion

To: Longboat Key Commission

We have one new sign that is a source of confusion.  I had an informal survey of people around the area of the dock about the new sign.  The consensus seems to be that they do not know what it means.  Where it was placed helps the confusion as it is 75-100 feet from the channel area on dry land.  I talked to the people because they wanted to know what I was doing taking photos.  I think that it is the only new sign.  One man said that it was the sand blocking the channel.

Tom Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Construction Hours & Noise

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Perhaps if the town required clear bilingual signage about legal hours of work at all construction sites, the police could issue stiff fines on first offense, that might result in fewer calls to police and fewer noisy violations.

With so much new building and rebuilding, the town needs to fine more effective ways of reducing noise.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Construction Hours & Noise

To: Gene Jaleski

I saw the sold notice in the Observer for your home. Congratulations. Have you found another residence?

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

  

North Trail Development

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am a resident of the Indian Beach Sapphire Shore community, and I strongly oppose the proposed development of the three apartment buildings that have pending site plans on the North Trail. The intended use of the North Trail Overlay District is to encourage walkability with urban concepts and streetscapes. These proposed apartments do not fit this concept at all. Improving the North Trail is desirable, and I support new development, but an overflow of apartments is not the answer. The new code was written to benefit the community, to create a more desirable place for its citizens, and not only help developers’ profits. Please consider reducing the number of allowable units on these parcels.

Maryann Armour

Sarasota

North Trail Development

To: Maryann Armour

I am not familiar with where these apartments are being located, but if they meet the zoning requirements, we can’t deny the application. I am copying the city managers in order for the appropriate staff to respond to your concerns.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

5G pole in Gillespie Park

To: Sarasota City Commission

The 5G pole which has been sited on 5th Street in the Gillespie Park neighborhood is an eyesore and has no place in a residential neighborhood with small historic houses.

There are plenty of nearby places zoned DTE (as opposed to DTN, with its height limits) which could serve Verizon well. I know the pole was placed incorrectly (i.e., not on a current property line as surveyed.). It is appropriate that it is being moved – but it should not be moved a few feet down to be in the middle of a residential street of small houses. Sarasota Tours takes tourists down Gillespie Park streets to show a charming neighborhood with a friendly scale and feel.  A 5G pole is out of place on this street.  It is the equivalent of a technological landfill.

It’s bad enough that the city considers Gillespie Park a poor cousin and allocates more funding to Payne Park and other wealthier neighborhoods.  The city owns the verges but the homeowners are charged with keeping them mowed and tidy to be pleasing to the eye. A 5G pole is anything but.

Please work with Verizon to find a more suitable site for this pole, out of our small, historic, residential neighborhood.

Kate Holland

Sarasota

 

5G pole in Gillespie Park

To: Kate Holland

Good morning.  Writing back to respond to your inquiry with the City.  As of the time of this email, we have no indications from Verizon that the pole will be moved.  The State law gives Verizon and other registered telecommunications companies broad reach to locate poles where they find it appropriate for their 5G network.  At the end of the day, the State law provides that their technical needs must be accommodated, excepting only spatial clearances needed for safety.  Along these lines, the State law specifically bars proximity to residences from being a reason to deny a permit.  For this reason, the City has had to approve 5G poles in other locations throughout town within single-family residential neighborhoods, similar to Gillespie Park and 5th Street.

Still, the City will inquire with Verizon about the possibility of moving the pole.  Should they be open to relocating it, we will reach a determination whether the new location is preferable and circle back to notify residents prior to confirming the relocation.  Thank you.

Daniel Ohrenstein

Assistant City Engineer

City of Sarasota

 

Traffic flow on St. Armands

To: Sarasota City Commission

Traffic flow has been an issue for some time on the circle and it doesn’t get better. Two years ago, speed bumps were installed to slow traffic down. But what has yet to be controlled is pedestrian traffic flow. If there were pedestrian lights to allow the flow of pedestrian traffic to be time so that a group of pedestrians can cross rather than the constant trickle that happens all the time and creates a gridlock. This has been done in many places throughout the county and it seems to be a better solution.

As a second thought it would also help when cars pack outside the white lines that they are ticketed. This too cause additional driving hazards on the circle. Thanks for your consideration in this matter and continued support of our city.

Jeffrey Heath

Sarasota

 

Traffic flow on St. Armands

To: Jeffrey Heath

Thanks for the suggestion. I think this has been proposed over the years, but not sure why it has not been implemented.

I am copy the city manager so that the appropriate staff can respond.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Scooter and trolley clutter

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch

I would like to share feedback on two items: scooters/bikes and trolley rides. I live on Lido Key.

1. scooters and bikes: I think the scooters are somewhat dangerous, and they are in too many spaces, making Lido and St. Armands Circle very cluttered.

Several of the scooter users have been riding on the sidewalks in front of the beach at full speed. They seem to pretend they’re on a joy ride.

Also, some riders have chosen to ride in the bike lane facing traffic. I think there needs to be more supervision and less bikes. Walking to a bike station is good exercise.

2. We love the trolleys and have gone into the city 400 percent more often than we used to. When we shopped in a store in the city we told the clerk that we took the trolley into the city. She said they were very upset that the trolleys would take their business away, but, in fact, they have brought a great deal of business into the city.

However, I would like to make one observation and complaint. My friend and I were on the trolley early this week and experienced a driver whom we had not seen before on our route. The driver was loud and twice used “Jesus Christ” to complain about something. Then the driver also said, “Oh, Jesus” as a remark.  I asked the driver not to use those names in such a derogatory way, and the driver just said, “Let’s keep our comments positive,” several times. I won’t reveal the driver’s name, but I hope proper protocol will be emphasized by the authorities in charge of the trolley rides. Previous to that we had very helpful, pleasant drivers who made the whole experience enjoyable. Thank you for forwarding these comments to the appropriate offices.

Judy Matthies

Sarasota

 

To: Judy Matthies

Thanks Judy for taking the time to share your comments and give input on the Veo micro-mobility and Trolly. I have copied the City Manager and others on this email as well.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

I was happy to see that the City supported the continuation of Fresh First Fridays! It is wonderful to have entertainment and fun to bring people to Downtown Sarasota. It helps to build businesses and such a great impact for our City as a whole.

With that said, I would like to express my frustration that I feel we endured, all the legal expenses and being severely limited on our ability to continue entertainment that always ended by 10pm on the weekend and never went above the noise level. But to have lively entertainment for all to enjoy, 0.07 miles away from our location seems unjust.

We have a City park in front of the face of our restaurant, Links Plaza Park, where the water feature has been shut off for a couple of years. We have contacted the City to see what would be done with the Park as it is a bit sad looking and we were told there are major plumbing issues and the money it would require to fix is not there so it will not be fixed.

It seems like that would be such a great location that we could host some outdoor family friendly entertainment, as well as our other areas within our outdoor space that were restricted from us to use for entertainment. When we see other venues creating this great Downtown Sarasota vibe and drawing people in to support our City, we are nothing but excited however, it feels like a bit of a gut punch that we are excluded from the allowed entertainment group all because a handful of people. Yet less than 1 mile from our location and even closer to the few that complained there is entertainment outdoors from several venues on Main Street.

Aside from the astronomic cost of giving more money to an attorney that we really need to use to cover our staff, would there be any suggestions or conversations or ideas on who we could speak to so that we may be included in the Downtown atmosphere that the vast majority of people want to have.

Karl Raffurty

Raffurty’s Bar and Grill

Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

Call me if you’d like to discuss further.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Could you please review below and remind me what the agreements were? This came before the commission early 2021 I believe. Thank you.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

If I’m remembering correctly, I think they were originally classified as a restaurant, which is a permitted use, but had to convert to a nightclub, which required a major conditional use (meaning a Resolution of approval with conditions) because of the liquor license and the Zoning Code definition of a nightclub that is tied to the type of liquor license.  I seem to remember that they didn’t have over 50% of revenues derived from sale of food, but I might be wrong.  I won’t be in the office in the morning, but I will check to see if I’m right about this when I get in after lunch and I can email you the Resolution or alternatively, if I’m not remembering right, let you know what actually happened and provide the documentation.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Ok. I remember they had some provisions either between us or others that limited what they could do regarding sound, etc., either between us and then as a condition of the change or with others. Trying to understand.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

Above is the letter to applicant from staff outlining conditions of approval and Resolution approving major conditional use for a nightclub.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

How are these conditions amended or altered?

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Downtown Entertainment

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

The conditions are amended or altered by filing an application for a modification of a previously approved conditional use.  The process is to have a public hearing in front of the Planning Board first.   Then a report of what the Planning Board did is given to the City Commission and the Commission can decide whether just to affirm the decision of the Planning Board or to hold a new de novo public hearing to consider the application.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

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