The annual Florida Legislative session has been a good one for the town of Longboat Key.
Town-hired lobbyist Dave Ramba notified town staff at the end of April that Senate Bill 374 passed in both the state Senate and House. The bill, which fixes a density glitch in the Town Charter, now rests with the governor, who is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
The bill is meant to exclude Longboat Key from a ban on local growth management referendums imposed by the Legislature in 2011. The ban was a response to the proposed “Hometown Democracy” constitutional amendment, rejected by voters, which would have required referendum votes on local development decisions.
The Longboat Key Town Commission gave town staff direction to take the actions necessary to get the major charter issue back on track. The charter is currently in limbo in regards to future density increases because the Legislature approved at a previous session a two-page bill that nixed the referendum process statewide and also rendered any referendum performed on or after June 1, 2011 moot.
So, the referendum approval process the town has used for more than 25 years is currently useless. And a referendum that the island’s registered voters approved Nov. 6, 2012 that allowed two properties to convert from commercial to residential use, allowing for a maximum of six dwelling units per acre, is null and void.
But all that will change when Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the amended bill into law any day now.
“This referendum requirement has been a condition precedent to any density increases and has been a huge factor in making the town the desirable community that it is today,” wrote Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale in an April 30 email to the commission.
The town, meanwhile, doesn’t have any problems with any other past referendum approvals.
When the governor signs the bill, the referenda approved in 2012 will also become legal again.
Longboat Key is the only municipality in the state that has a charter that requests a referendum to increase density.
Town receives more beach funds
The Florida Legislature’s spring session ended on a positive note for the town. Not only did a bill clear both the House and Senate that fixes a density glitch in the Town Charter, but Longboat Key also received $2,335,034 for beach nourishment purposes as part of a House bill that disperses funds for beach and inlet projects.
“It’s been a very good legislative session for the town of Longboat Key,” wrote Town Manager Dave Bullock, in a May 7 email to the Town Commission.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]