The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s $400 million Islandside renovation-and-expansion project has been put on hold, at least until the end of March or early April at the earliest.
Club attorney John Patterson began the meeting by explaining there are interpretations of the town code that have not been resolved between club officials and town staff.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson discovered a glitch in the revised project, which was in the original plan submitted more than a year ago, regarding building length and building view lengths.
Town Attorney David Persson told the commission they could continue the hearing until both sides are ready to present the project again or reject the application today by voting not to amend golf and open space agreements needed to approve the project.
Persson, who was trying to push a decision on the application forward before the municipal election next month potentially changes the dynamic of the commission, told commissioners there was no way that could happen now.
Commissioner Peter O’Connor was extremely upset that the hearing would be continued past the municipal election on March 16 and let club officials know it.
Said O’Connor: “You are treating us like we are less than you. If you don’t want this to go forward, let us know. But don’t keep coming here every Friday and asking us for another continuance. We are not a bunch of small town yahoos that you can keep taking advantage of.”
Patterson told O’Connor that club staff has been working around the clock to get the revised application complete.
“This is absolutely as frustrating to us as it is to you,” Patterson said.
Islandside Property Owners Coalition attorney Michael Furen urged the commission to reject the application and not continue the hearing.
But Commissioner Jim Brown made a motion to move forward with a continuance of the hearing that would reconvene no sooner than March 23 (the day after the statutory meeting at Town Hall that swears in commissioners to a new two-year term and selects a new mayor).
Commissioners Brown, Hal Lenobel, George Spoll and Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann voted to continue the hearing. Mayor Lee Rothenberg and Commissioners Peter O’Connor and Gene Jaleski voted against continuing the hearing.
The commission also voted 6-1 to hold off on approving amendments to the golf and open space agreements until the hearing reconvenes. Rothenberg voted against the decision.
Key Club General Manager Michael Welly was frustrated with the outcome of the hearing.
“We modified the project because we thought it would alleviate concerns from town staff and the opposition to the project,” Welly said. “We’re doing everything in our power to move this project along.”
For more information, including what the ramifications of a commission with three new potential commissioners sitting on the dais reviewing the project means, pick up a copy of the Thursday, Feb. 25 Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.