The Longboat Key Town Commission began its daunting task of sifting through a long list of $125,000 worth of recommendations the Urban Land Institute presented by scratching one of the major recommendations off the list Monday.
The commission agreed not to consider a recommendation to relax the town’s 30-day rental restriction mandate during the offseason. ULI made the recommendation to see if the modification would bring more people to the Key and to help businesses survive in the summer months.
The move was made, in part, because if the town makes any modifications to its ordinance, there’s a danger the town would no longer be in control of rentals. The town’s ordinance is currently grandfathered, and any modifications could mean the Legislature would be in charge of rentals in the future.
Planning and Zoning Board member Andrew Aitken was among those who denounced the suggestion at the meeting.
“It’s a bad idea,” Aitken said. “It should be rejected out of hand. There’s already vacancies in the summer at the places we have, and we don’t want to create rental party houses that other communities have.”
The comments prompted Commissioner Phill Younger to ask, “Is any commissioner interested in pursuing the 30-day rental change?”
No commissioners spoke up, and when residents continued to express issues with rental modifications, Mayor Jim Brown made it clear the suggestion no longer needed to be discussed.
“The rental issue is moot and removed from the list,” Brown said. “We’re not going to discuss it any further.”
Although the rental topic is off the list, a long list of topics Town Manager Dave Bullock presented will be discussed at future special meetings with the help of an advisory committee that will be formulated Nov. 18 (see sidebar on page 1A).
The remaining focus areas the commission will discuss with the input of the public include:
• Gulf of Mexico Drive/town gateways
• Bayfront Park/recreation
• Town center
•Comprehensive Plan/land development code overhaul
• Whitney Beach Plaza area
• Digital communications
For Bayfront Park, Bullock explained there is $1.5 million in an open-space fund and $2.8 million in infrastructure surtax funds that could be utilized to improve the park and its recreational uses.
Although commissioners agreed to discuss future park enhancements, they agreed not to make a decision at this time on whether a community center should be located on the site.
“If we don’t want or attain a town center approach somewhere else, suddenly we’ve cut ourselves out of putting a town center there (at the park),” said Commissioner Jack Duncan.
Bullock said any town center concept should be centered around one question: Is it viable for the community?
“If you build a town center with additional commercial space, it needs to be viable,” said Bullock, who explained conversations would be held with nearby property owners and public-private partnerships would be reviewed.
Bullock also explained that an overhaul of the town comp plan and codes “is a large and complex process with multiple layers and public input” that also requires the use of time and money from consultants and lawyers over a two-year period.
“Things that can be implemented more quickly will float to the top,” Bullock said. “This will stretch your fiscal resources a bit. The biggest thing we’re going to have to do well is get consensus around things and reach a good enough consensus to make things happen.”
Town Manager Dave Bullock said the following considerations will have to be made when reviewing ULI recommendations:
• Commit funds over multiple years
• Develop partners
• Work with counties
• Learn from others while customizing for Longboat Key
• Supplement staff
• Hold ourselves accountable
• Determine town role in many of these above topics
The town of Longboat Key is accepting applications immediately for appointments to an advisory committee to assist with implementation of the Urban Land Institute recommendations.
ULI recommendations are available on the town’s website, www.longboatkey.org. Applications must be submitted to the Town Clerk’s Office by noon Nov. 14. All applicants must be registered Longboat Key voters. For more information, call 316-1999.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]