The Longboat Key Vision Plan Subcommittee almost ran out of time to accomplish what it set out to do: Revise and update the vision plan.
Long debates about how specific the town should be when referring to future revitalization of the island and how that information should be included in the town’s comprehensive plan have caused recent meetings to last for up to four hours.
The debate continued Wednesday, Sept. 1, even though Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson warned the subcommittee that it’s unlikely the group can continue to meet in the coming months.
Instead, a two-and-a-half hour debate ensued about the comprehensive plan — not the vision plan.
Town Attorney David Persson started Wednesday’s meeting by saying that being too specific with a comprehensive plan causes problems.
“If you want to tie the hands of future commissions, being as specific as you can will do that,” Persson said. “You want to give enough latitude so if something doesn’t work, you don’t have to go back and change it.”
Persson suggested the town put specific examples in the data and analysis portion of a comprehensive plan.
Examples could include suggestions on what the town would like to see renovated on sites such as Whitney Beach Plaza and Avenue of the Flowers.
“The vision plan is the catalyst for a comprehensive plan change,” Persson said. “It should stimulate the thought process.”
But subcommittee Chairwoman Pat Zunz and member George Symanski Jr. wanted to continue the comprehensive plan discussion and suggested that it’s a wasted effort if the town doesn’t give developers an idea of what the town would like to see.
The comments frustrated subcommittee member Dick Pelton.
“It seems we are going beyond our mission,” Pelton said.
Subcommittee member David Miller agreed and distributed a letter to the group that suggested the town consider inserting a paragraph of the town’s vision plan into its comprehensive plan, like the city of Palm Coast has done.
But Zunz quickly rebuffed the suggestion.
“That’s not meaty enough,” Zunz said. “It’s not acceptable to leave these sites the way they are. Blighted is the word for what’s going on at the north end.”
But subcommittee member and Commissioner David Brenner told the group it was getting off track.
“We’re supposed to be talking about the vision plan,” Brenner said. “I don’t know more than anyone else what will happen at the north end, but the marketplace will dictate that.”
“What you’re essentially saying is don’t plan,” Zunz said.
Zunz, Symanski, Pelton and Vice Mayor Jim Brown reached a consensus that the group should be more specific in its vision plan and offer suggestions on what could be included in revisions of the comprehensive plan when the commission discusses the issue at its Thursday, Sept. 23, regular workshop. Brenner and Miller disagreed.
The group finally moved on to vision plan revisions and continued to discuss the items into the afternoon, after Simpson again warned that the group couldn’t continue to meet past its scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 7, meeting.
“The commission is talking about Comprehensive Plan amendments on Sept. 23,” Simpson said. “The clock is ticking loudly now.”
The subcommittee listened to Simpson’s warning and finished its revisions at its Sept. 7 meeting. The final document includes specific examples for revitalizing Key resorts and shopping centers.
Unless a subcommittee member has a major issue with the revised vision plan that Simpson will draw up this week, the subcommittee is not expected to hold another meeting.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at Kschultheis@yourobserver.com.