In April, the Planning and Zoning Board discussed Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub owner Ed Chiles’ controversial plan to increase the restaurant’s seating by 11 spots and add a meeting room and deck to the historic Rufus P. Jordan House. But some Longbeach Village residents didn’t get the news.
It turns out they should have been notified.
In April, Chiles only sent notifications to parties who had previously requested notification of all town actions. But property owners within 500 feet of the Mar Vista site should have been notified via certified mail, as required by the town’s zoning code.
Town staff investigated issues with the notification process, after several Village residents told the Longboat Key Town Commission at its May 20 workshop that they lived within 500 feet of Mar Vista and didn’t receive proper written notice that the Planning and Zoning Board and the Town Commission were reviewing the project.
Town staff identified errors in the Mar Vista process, meaning that Chiles will have to go back before the planning board for a review of the project.
To solve future issues, the town will begin using newly updated Geographic Information System (GIS) data, which most jurisdictions throughout the state and nation use, according to an email Town Manager Dave Bullock sent to the commission.
The town has conducted ground checks to ensure accuracy.
The town will also change its procedures by requiring applicants to give staff a list of properties they mailed notification to immediately after mailing the notices, instead of waiting until a public hearing to provide the list.
“This will allow staff to identify any notification issues prior to the meeting and, if necessary, reschedule a meeting to ensure correct notice,” Bullock wrote.
The hearing before the planning board has not yet been rescheduled.
No conflict of interest
Commissioner Pat Zunz owns property in the Longbeach Village, but, according to a May 23 letter from Gray Schafer, staff attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics, that doesn’t constitute a voting conflict of interest.
According to the letter, Florida Statutes prohibit local public officials from voting on measures that would result in “special private gain or loss” for themselves or residents.
Schafer wrote there are approximately 100 other residential lots within a two-block radius of the site.
“Considering this number, it seems the size of the class may be too large to find Commissioner Zunz would be deriving a private benefit by voting on the amendment,” the letter states.