Why is the town spending $125,000 for a five-day Urban Land Institute study?
To answer the question, go back to Sarasota Judge Charles E. Roberts’ December 2011 ruling, in which he found the town violated its zoning regulations and Comprehensive Plan when the Longboat Key Town Commission approved the Longboat Key Club & Resort’s $400 million expansion plan in 2010.
Town attorney David Persson told the commission after the ruling that the town needed to establish what is permitted under town regulations.
“ … frankly, it can be viewed as a loud and positive call for the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations to clearly articulate the town’s goals and visions and how those goals and visions will be achieved through the Land Development Regulations,” Persson wrote in a January 2012 email to the commission.
Town Manager Dave Bullock recommended a two-step approach to the commission in which the town would address specific issues outlined in Roberts’ ruling, while also taking on a broader review of its code and Comp Plan.
The commission heard a presentation by phone from Thomas Eitler, ULI vice president of advisory services, at its January 2012 workshop about the ULI’s five-day panels.
But some commissioners balked at the $125,000 cost, while others worried the study wouldn’t focus enough on the zoning code.
At first, the commission rejected that proposal, opting instead in April 2012 to put out a request for proposals (RFP) to determine the scope of work for a possible study.
By September 2012, the town had received six proposals from community consultants.
But in February, after narrowing down the pool to two companies, a committee charged with making a recommendation agreed that neither company was the right match. At that time, the commission agreed that the town had met its match with ULI — and unanimously agreed to allow Bullock to work out a contract.
The panel toured the Key by bus and boat Monday and spent Tuesday interviewing residents and stakeholders. The eight panelists will deliberate Wednesday and prepare their report Thursday before presenting their findings at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Longboat Key Town Hall.
The Urban Land Institute has completed studies of the following communities so far in 2013:
• Arvada, Colo.
• Columbia, S.C.
• Former Clarke Air Force Base, Philippines
• Hurricane Sandy-impacted areas, New York and New Jersey
• Lafayette, La.
• Lamar, Colo.
• Manatee County
• Buffalo, N.Y.
• Pasco County
• St. Petersburg
• Sanya, China
• Westwood neighborhood of Denver
Source: Urban Land Institute, uli.org
MAN ON THE STREET
The Longboat Observer spoke with some of those who signed up to be interviewed by Urban Land Institute (ULI) panelists Tuesday, Oct. 22, to learn their thoughts on the one-hour interview process.
“It was a terrific experience. This is an opportunity to get the community together and discuss the issues. It could be our last chance to hash out the issues and come to some sort of middle ground about our future.”
— Tom Freiwald
“It was an interesting process. I look forward to hearing the plan that’s produced. The vitality of the Key is directly linked to the vitality of the airport.”
— Frederick Piccolo, president and CEO of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
“I came in with no expectations and nothing prepared to say. They did a good job of engaging us and were knowledgeable about the issues that are important to us. I hope for good answers to the questions we have proposed.”
— Commissioner Jack Duncan
“We covered all the big issues, but I feel that there wasn’t enough time to discuss everything.”
— Ray Rajewski
“It was a healthy discussion that’s needed for the future of this Key and how it moves forward.”
— Sarasota developer Jay Tallman
“My hope is this process will get us off the dime and moving forward in the right direction so we can get things done.”
— Commissioner Phill Younger
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]