The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association doesn’t have to worry about losing 134 of the 237 tourism units that sit empty at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
The Longboat Key Town Commission gave the association and other Colony parties until Aug. 1, 2016 to file a building permit at Town Hall that aims to restore the resort with its current number of tourism units.
The commission, though, said it’s the town’s goal to change the density of the 18-acre site, through its ongoing process of revising its town codes and Comprehensive Plan.
“This whole discussion supports memorializing the density in some form and get away from theses abandonments and extensions,” said Commissioner Terry Gans. “I would like to see tourism on that property.”
The commission and association attorney Don Hemke agreed to a stipulation that the association construct a fence around the entire site that’s at least 6 feet tall and as high as 8 feet.
Police Chief Pete Cumming made the recommendation, saying the fence and “no trespassing” signs “will keep people off the property and allow us to arrest people trying to access it.”
The commission also agreed to keep a bond the town can draw from if the association fails to make repairs or handle code-related issues at the resort in a timely manner at $50,000. Commissioners and the association also agreed to remove a step that mandated the town hold a public hearing before Town Manager Dave Bullock could draw money from the bond.
While Colony attorneys expressed optimism with the commission’s decision to grant the longer extension, they warned commissioners a revitalized Colony faces additional hurdles.
“The legal restraints remain,” Hemke said. “Many dollars were spent in conjunction with a settlement proceeding that was unsuccessful and many other avenues are being discussed as we continue to seek a resolution.”
Colony attorney Jeff Warren also informed the commission the settlement rejected by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May “was disappointing for us.”
“The court determined an objection by one party to the settlement was sufficient to avoid settlements from being implemented,” Warren said. “It’s not the final determination.”
Mayor Jim Brown said he walked into the meeting thinking he would suggest to the commission it give the association the maximum deadline time.
“Let’s give these people time to do what they are going to do,” Brown said. “It’s wasteful and time-consuming to keep holding these extension meetings. The codes will be changed by the time a project is submitted for a new Colony. Let it play out.”
The decision was unanimous, even though Colony unit owner Blake Fleetwood took to the podium to express his frustration, which upset some commissioners.
“You all are threatening my home,” Fleetwood said. “Threats of demolition and zoning aren’t helping. Stop wasting our time with threats of demolition. Let’s work together to get out of this morass.”
Brown told Fleetwood it “always amazes me when people walk up and stick their finger in my eye and then ask me for their help”
“There’s no thanks for the last four years’ worth of help and the extensions we’ve already given you,” he said.
Brown, though, suggested the commission should consider “backing off the nuisance hearing thing.”
The commission agreed to continue a Colony nuisance hearing until May 28. The hearing would determine whether existing buildings at the Colony constitute a nuisance or are a hazard to the community, which could begin the demolition hearing process.
The commission, though, must hold the nuisance hearing in May and decide at that time if it wishes to cancel or continue the process to a later time.
“We may have new people running around at the new Colony in a few years,” Brown said. “Let’s continue that continuance.”
+ Town urges Colony to combat rodents
The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association said there is no rat problem that town officials claim exists on the shuttered hotel site.
A March 21 letter to Colony officials and attorneys revealed the town has received a complaint about rodent activity at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
“Our inspection of the property indicates that the rodent traps on the property need attention,” Bullock wrote. “Please have your extermination contractor inspect the site and address any issues.”
The town imposed a deadline of April 4 for Colony officials to correct the problem.
But Colony attorney Don Hemke said the “it’s a non-issue and there’s no sign of rodent activity on the site.”
While it was reported that rat traps on the property were full of rats, Hemke said the traps only contain rat poison that rats eat and then fall dead on site.
“The traps don’t collect rats and there are no dead rats on the site,” Hemke said.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com