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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 5 years ago

Vision Plan focus questioned

by: Kurt Schultheis Managing Editor

A suggestion by a committee member at a recent Vision Plan Subcommittee meeting has sparked the interest of the group charged with updating the Vision Plan.

Committee member Dick Pelton suggested earlier this month that the town evaluate or survey its full-time and par-time residents and visitors.

“We have seen businesses flounder and had high hopes for shopping centers that are still sitting with empty stores,” said Pelton, at the subcommittee’s Wednesday, Aug. 4 meeting. “I would like to see us have a focus group or perform a survey to get a formal feel of what we should be doing on a regular basis.”

Pelton’s suggestion prompted an e-mail from Country Club Shores resident Bob Gault, the former chief executive officer of Universal Studios-Orlando.

He wrote: “One important element of feedback to the plan that has not been included in the process is finding out what Longboat Key’s off-island potential ‘customers’ think about Longboat Key as a place to buy real estate, vacation or do business of any kind. What is our image and is there anything we can include in the Vision Plan, Comp Plan, town management tactics, etc. to address any weaknesses that we may have in market perceptions?”

Gault also suggested the Town Commission perform a periodic survey to get a feel for what its constituents are looking for on their island.

The discussion led back to the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which will most likely be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board this fall.

Subcommittee member George Symanski Jr. noted that the Vision Plan is a policy document that has no official weight, but will act as an overall guide for changes that can be made to the Comprehensive Plan.

The subcommittee agreed that at its next meeting, it would discuss, with town counsel present, how in-depth the Vision Plan could be in regard to telling potential developers what the town would like to see on certain commercial parcels.

At a previous subcommittee meeting, Symanski and subcommittee member David Brenner debated that issue. Symanski made his argument again at the meeting.

“Zoning is what you can do and planning is the option you have available to you,” said Symanski to Brenner. “There seems to be a big disconnect from what I think is comprehensive planning and what you think it is. I feel like I don’t know what to do with the plan if you think it’s one thing and I think it’s another.”

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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