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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010 5 years ago

White questions Hackett

by: Kurt Schultheis Managing Editor

After John Redgrave’s resignation March 4, Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White is calling into question another Planning and Zoning Board member’s involvement in the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion application.

White told The Longboat Observer he has three sources who say that planning board member Walter Hackett actively encouraged and promoted the Key Club’s application during the time in which Hackett was reviewing the application last year with the rest of the board.

“It’s apparently no big secret,” said White. “More questions have been raised, and it’s another issue that casts a cloud over the proceedings.”

White says if he were able to confirm the incident, he would immediately get in touch with town attorney David Persson to see what actions need to be taken.

Hackett, meanwhile, said the incident never happened.

“That is so farfetched it’s not worth responding to,” Hackett said. “I would never do anything to jeopardize any application that came before our board.”

Hackett called White’s comments “witch-hunt tactics,” referring to Redgrave’s recent resignation.

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent confirmed for The Longboat Observer that White called her office in late February to question Redgrave’s residency and voting rights on Longboat Key. Redgrave immediately resigned after learning he could not vote on the Key while having a homestead exemption on a Sarasota condominium.

Regarding White’s accusations against Hackett, Persson said he has only heard rumors.

“If there is an alleged violation of the town’s ethic codes, someone would have to fill out a sworn statement for the town clerk, and I would then investigate the matter,” said Persson, who explained the town would appoint a special magistrate to investigate any alleged breach in its ethic codes.

White, meanwhile, said he has no intention of going any further with the Hackett claim unless he can verify it.

If White is able to verify the claim, he believes Hackett should recuse himself from the upcoming code review deliberations the planning board will discuss next month regarding the Islandside project.

White also said he has no plans to question the planning board vote that forwarded the application to the Town Commission, even though Redgrave’s voting requirement and residency were questioned.

“Even though Mr. Redgrave wasn’t legally on the board, case law indicates that until he resigned, any votes made would stand,” White said. “But this latest instance raises another area of concern regarding the (Islandside application) process.”

Key Club General Manager Michael Welly called White’s comments “sheer desperation.”

“I just hope he (White) doesn’t hurt anyone or damage anyone’s reputation in the process of making these accusations,” Welly said.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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