The Longboat Key Club & Resort has agreed not to touch the guardhouse on Longboat Club Road as part of its $400 million renovation plan for Islandside.
But the road itself is still a point of contention.
The club dropped plans for moving the guardhouse, after the Longboat Key Association, which owns and maintains the road, refused to sign off on the Islandside application.
But at a pre-application meeting between town staff and club officials last month, Town Attorney David Persson questioned whether the club has the right to make minor changes to the road, including curb cuts and minor sidewalk modifications.
Said Persson: “If the club is going to make any changes to Longboat Club Road, they need to show us how they have authority to go ahead and do that.”
Bob Goodman, president of The Longboat Key Association, sent an inquiry to Longboat Key Association attorney Robert Moore in which he asks Moore whether his group can regulate curb cuts along the road. If so, the association would most likely play an important role — yet again — on the fate of the club’s application.
But in a letter dated April 30 that was sent to Goodman, Moore states that curb cuts can be approved by the town, because the club is a member of the Longboat Key Association and has the right to curb cuts to gain access to the road.
Key Club attorney John Patterson agrees.
Patterson sent a memo dated Monday, April 20, in which he states that an easement on file in Sarasota County gives the club “the non-exclusive and perpetual right of ingress and egress over and across Longboat Club Road.”
“Any adjacent property owner has right to realign sidewalks and do curb cuts,” Patterson said.
“Furthermore, the association has never approved any curb cuts or sidewalk changes for the road in the past.”
Persson said he has not yet read the memos and will review them before or during another pre-application meeting at Town Hall slated for May 20.
The club hopes to re-file its application June 1, two months after Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Daigle reversed course and deemed the club’s initial application incomplete.
Daigle announced her reversal in April, four months after an appeal was filed by several Islandside community associations and Sarasota land-use attorney Michael Furen. The appeal stated the application was incomplete because not all of the owners of the land or property signed the application or affidavits authorizing the club’s attorney to be their agent.
The appeal also stated that the application includes road, driveway, water-drainage modifications and guardhouse changes that can’t be performed because the Longboat Key Association owns the road and right of way.
Furen, however, is expected to disagree with both Moore and Goodman’s stance on curb cuts.
Moore states in his memo to Goodman that Furen will make the argument that the planned Islandside expansion and its increase in traffic may overburden the easement, which could affect the town’s decision on the matter.
Furen did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
While Patterson said the club accepted Daigle’s decision to deem the application incomplete, it doesn’t agree with it.
“We could have made an argument that the town could approve a guardhouse relocation to improve traffic flow,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, Rick Crawford, chairman of the Positive Change for LBK coalition, is still upset that the original application was not upheld.
“The Longboat Key Association reviewed the plan last fall and voiced no objection to it for months,” Crawford said. “Then, months later, they voice their objection in an appeal with an attorney that is representing the Islandside Property Owners Coalition.”
Crawford said he believes the association is now “acting as an agent of the coalition,” which has denounced the project as proposed from the start.
“Mr. Crawford’s statements are 100% false,” Goodman said. “The association has had objections to the plan from the start.”
Goodman said the only reason the association did not object to guardhouse and road changes from the beginning is because it was unaware the club had proposed the changes in its application.
“The club never asked for our permission to make the changes,” Goodman said. “So it was impossible to object until we discovered the changes were being proposed.”
Longboat Key Club General Manager Michael Welly declined to offer his take on the differences of opinion, instead offering a summary of how the events unfolded.
“The proposed changes to the gatehouse were intended as a goodwill gesture to enhance the aesthetics of the Islandside entrance, with funding to be provided by the club,” Welly said. “The association declined the gesture, and we are moving forward with the necessary adjustments to the plan.” The Longboat Key Club &
Resort has agreed not to touch the guardhouse on Longboat Club Road as part of its $400 million renovation plan for Islandside.