The Longboat Key Town Commission has heard it before: a settlement among affected Colony Beach & Tennis Resort parties that could spur redevelopment of the dilapidated resort is in the works.
But for the first time before the Town Commission, Charles Bartlett, attorney for longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, said he’s optimistic a settlement can be reached within the next 60 days.
“I made only one New Year’s resolution for 2013 and that was to bring the Colony to a resolution,” Bartlett told commissioners at a Wednesday special meeting to discuss the Colony. “We don’t have a deal yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic we are putting the pieces together to make a deal. Within the next 60 days, my hope is we will put a settlement together. It’s my belief we are going to get there.”
Commissioners were pleased to hear the news, but were only cautiously optimistic.
A three-and-a-half hour meeting discussed everything from ownership parcels to code enforcement issues. Commissioners also heard from nearby neighbors who are sick of looking at the current appearance of the rundown property.
“We just want the property cleaned up, pest free and kept safe for its neighbors,” said Aquarius condominium board member Greg Van Howe.
Mayor Jim Brown told those in attendance he sympathized with their frustration.
“I sympathize with the emotions here today, but there’s a limit to what we can do,” Brown said.
Commissioners, though, are taking a harder stance moving forward as a grandfathered tourism extension deadline draws closer. That deadline expires on Dec. 31.
Commissioner Phill Younger asked Town Manager Dave Bullock to look into options for providing security for a resort that’s seen a lot of vandalism lately. The town will also bring back ordinance language that further clarifies the property moving forward can only be used for tourism.
“At some point, we might want to condemn this property and I would like the town manager to look into that as well,” Younger said.
The commission is also likely to meet again later this summer if a settlement isn’t reached in the next 60 days.
“I’m sick and tired of this and we need to stay on top of it closely,” said Commissioner Lynn Larson.
Other commissioners expressed frustration with the Colony parties and noted their patience is running thin.
“The bottom line is my patience is all but exhausted,” said Commissioner Terry Gans. “You must leave your egos at the door, as well as the quest for things that are not permitted or legal. The game of chicken to try and be the last one standing must end. The common good, for the Colony and the town, must prevail.”
Commissioner Jack Duncan, who requested the meeting and attended via Skype, called the meeting “productive.”
After the meeting, Duncan said the meeting was “more about playing an educational role for owners that are hearing several different stories getting spun a million different ways.”
“This is about unit owners understanding their options,” said Duncan, who believes that either a rebuild or a renovation of the property constitutes a substantial change under Florida condominium law and will require a 75% vote by the owners. “Just about anything they want to do there requires a 75% vote if they follow Florida statutes.”
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