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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 5 years ago

Opposing Key Club project groups face off

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by: Kurt Schultheis Managing Editor

Positive Change for LBK and The Islandside Property Owners Coalition clashed Wednesday, Jan. 20 over whether the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project was right for the community and whether it can be approved as proposed.

Robert Gault, a Country Club Shores resident and the former chief executive officer of Universal Studios-Orlando, testified for Positive Change for LBK Wednesday morning, at Temple Beth Israel, explaining that Longboat Key “is in a major competitive battle for high-end tourism visitation.”

“Please make a smart, common sense, market-driven decision to support our club, which will improve property for all of Longboat Key,” Gault said.

Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said even just the approval of the project “will generate excitement for Longboat Key’s tourism community that’s been lacking for years.”

“If we can tell a new story of Longboat, we can get these people back in the pipeline,” Haley said.

IPOC Chairman Bob White, however, said he doesn’t believe the residents of the Key ever said they wanted the island to be a major tourist destination.

“The club has not provided sufficient evidence that this development is beneficial or adverse to the neighborhood and contributes to the public interest,” White said. “This project is not right for the site, the neighborhood or the Key.”

The Town Commission and both parties agreed to cross-examine Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson’s testimony on the 5%  limitation on non-residential development at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at the temple.

Simpson testified Wednesday that the applicant (Key Club) is requesting a departure of the 5% limitation. Simpson said the applicant wants 15.1% non-residential to build its project, or 10%  more than currently allowed for non-residential development.

IPOC attorney Michael Furen said Wednesday the club cannot ask for a departure for the 5% limitation in a planned unit development.

Said Furen: “If you can grant departures from the regulations that govern planned unit developments, what’s the point of the regulation in the first place?”

The public is scheduled to begin making their testimony to the Town Commission this afternoon.

For more information on the fifth and sixth days of hearings, check www.yourobserver.com for updates and pick up a copy of Thursday’s Jan. 28 Longboat Observer.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com.

 

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