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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 6 years ago

Letters to the Editor

by: Compiled by the Observer Staff

+ Future of Longboat Key rests with the Key Club
Dear Editor:
The future of Longboat Key and the Longboat Key Club are intrinsically linked. Right now, tourism is shrinking. Without more visitors, especially during the slower summer months, Longboat Key will become something else — a mere shadow of its former glory.

To keep Longboat, Longboat, we need to preserve our resort-community lifestyle. Without updating the island’s amen-
ities and maintaining a viable business community that attracts affluent visitors and real-estate buyers, Longboat Key won’t stay Longboat Key.

The club’s redevelopment also fiscally gives back to the community. It is estimated that the project will generate a net fiscal surplus of more than $1 million in the first five years and an estimated $17 million after 30 years. The club will help stimulate the island economy in other ways, too, by bringing visitors year-round to support our business community, boosting property values and, most importantly, creating demand for that real estate. Real saturation of the real-estate market is when people stop wanting the properties already available on Longboat Key. If the club makes the Key a more desirable place to live, it will increase demand of real estate to the point where it is insatiable. And how do you saturate the insatiable?

The opposition to the club’s redevelopment has consistently spouted negativity and has contributed little to the community except for 50-page legal documents and the delay of a new Rees Jones golf course. The opposition calls for a new plan, but has yet to offer a single, viable suggestion about what that might look like or how it can be financed.

What is the difference between a convention center and a meeting center? A convention center hosts a couple thousand to tens of thousands of people. The club’s meeting center will host groups of fewer than 100 people — professionals from Fortune 500 companies, who bring money into our local economy and often return to buy property on Longboat Key. In addition, a state-of-the-art meeting center offers executives the incentive to not only conduct business on our island, but also the opportunity to enjoy Longboat Key, St. Armands and other surrounding areas — spending money in our community year-round. 

And what about the often predicted traffic nightmare?  The most recent professional traffic study states that in our “high season” we can expect two more cars per minute in either direction at a peak hour (between 4 to 6 p.m.) as the worst-case scenario. Let’s remember what those additional cars signify — a vibrant community. Guess what type of community boasts no traffic? A ghost town. And, let’s be honest, today Longboat Key is already in a state of decline.

To stay the same, Longboat Key needs to introduce growth. There is currently one gas station left on Longboat Key to service the needs of 20,000-plus residents in high season.

We have heard from several people that they don’t want Longboat Key to become another Miami Beach.

Not to pick on L’Ambiance, because it is a pretty architecturally-designed building, but L’Ambiance represents a massive condo complex that dwarfs every other building on the southern end of the Key. In fact, many of the beach views from units in Building 4 at Inn on the Beach were obstructed by its construction and now look directly into residences at L’Ambiance. In contrast, the Key Club buildings will be significantly shorter and will be situated several thousand feet away from neighbors, minimizing any impact to their views even further.  

We have lost such precious time. Our new Tennis Gardens is wonderful, and we recently treated our out-of-town guests to a visit. They were so impressed by the facilities, courts, professionalism of the staff and quality of food that they decided to rent a place here this fall. Now, that is what the club is all about.  

In conclusion, let’s not live in an alternate universe, one where Longboat is simply a retirement community, “tourism” is a bad word, the current state of our prized resorts is conveniently overlooked and the amount of businesses that close every year still has not registered. This mindset will only lead to a poisoned legacy for Longboat Key.

Marsha Crawford
Positive Change for LBK

+ Daigle was correct
Dear Editor:
On July 22, you published an editorial asserting that the town is being arbitrary denying Key Club Associates’ request to demolish the Islandside tennis courts. You then published an article July 29 with responses by John Patterson and Brenda Patten, Key Club attorneys.

Both ignore the current regulations and resolutions that apply to the property and the history behind them.

The Islandside Gulf-planned development (GPD) is a comprehensive plan land-use designation (limited to residential uses) and its own zone district. The zoning code provides that the GPD shall be developed consistent with adopted resolutions.

In my opinion, contrary to Patterson’s representations, those governing resolutions clearly limit the use of the tennis complex and require Key Club Associates and Islandside development to maintain the tennis complex (and the golf course) as a private club providing recreational amenities that benefit the residents of the GPD.

The history is that to receive approval for the GPD, Arvida Corp. promised the town in 1976 and again in 1981 that it would build and maintain the golf course, clubhouse and tennis facilities (the “Recreational facilities”) as recreational amenities for use of the residents of the GPD.

The town permitted Arvida to operate the golf course and tennis facilities as a private membership club open to all Islandside residents rather than having a homeowners association own and operate them. The town later permitted Arvida to offer memberships to non-residents of Islandside under limited terms.

In 1981, based on the “assured availability” of the golf course and tennis facilities to the future residents of the GPD, the town gave Arvida credits against open space/recreation exactions and also allowed the individual residential development sites to reduce their “on-site” recreation facilities.

Those agreements were incorporated into the resolutions that govern the GPD starting in 1976. The Outline Development Plan adopted for the GPD (as authorized by the zoning code) expressly establishes the land use for the tennis property as “tennis complex” and “tennis complex addition.” These uses and the property are categorized as “recreational amenities” in the adopted Land Intensity Schedule. Arvida labeled the tennis facility property “Parcel REC-1” when it was platted, indicating that it was set aside for recreational purposes.

Arvida approved all of the governing resolutions passed while it was the developer of the GPD and made them binding on its successors. The Key Club’s deed provides that the 1976 and 1981 resolutions, as amended, are binding on the property. The Key Club stipulated that the resolutions were valid and binding in a settlement agreement with the town in 1991.

Demolishing the tennis courts is inconsistent with the binding commitments already made and in force. Longboat Key Planning, Building and Zoning Director Monica Daigle reached the correct decision.

Robert Lincoln

Attorney for Islandside
Property Owners Coalition


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