Florida’s Nov. 6 ballot will be one of the longest in recent memory, with voters deciding on 11 amendments in addition to presidential, state and local elections and judicial retention.
But the ballot on Longboat Key will be even longer than that of many Florida communities.
That’s because the island’s voters will decide whether to allow two properties to convert from commercial to residential use, allowing for a maximum of six dwelling units per acre.
The properties are the 0.76-acre plot in between the Public Safety Complex and the Centre Shops at 5440 Gulf of Mexico Drive owned by Victor Levine and the 0.44-acre plot at 521 Broadway east and adjacent to the Barrier Island Realty Group office in the Longbeach Village owned by First America Bank.
Levine is seeking the zoning change so that he can divide the lot into four separate lots, each with a single-family home. First America Bank wants to develop the Broadway property into two separate lots, which would each have a single-family home with water access to the canal behind them to the north.
Land-use consultant Peter Dailey, who represents both property owners, said that neither property is under contract. Both of his clients have had difficulty selling their properties because of the current zoning.
“Nobody’s moving in a quick hurry for commercial real estate on the island,” Dailey said.
The property at 5440 Gulf of Mexico Drive once held the home that Longboat Key’s first mayor, Will LePage, built in 1946.
The building was a residential home for more than 30 years, and part of the building was used as apartments for more than 10 years. Then, during the 1980s, the zoning for the front part of the parcel was changed to commercial.
The building was demolished in 2010.
According to a town staff report, none of the Centre Shop’s three sets of owners over the past 20 years has been interested in incorporating the Levine property into the Centre Shops.
Former Whitney Beach Plaza owner Andrew Hlywa and his partner, Dawn di Lorenzo, owned the parcel at 521 Broadway until 2010, when First America Bank took the certificate of title for the property. It is located adjacent to the house on Palm Drive in the Village that is still listed in Hlywa’s name.
If voters approve the requests, the parcels’ zoning won’t automatically change. The owners will then file an application to change the zoning and seek a small area comprehensive land-use amendment to the town’s Comprehensive Plan.