Opposing Key Club project groups face off


Opposing Key Club project groups face off


Date: January 20, 2010
by: Kurt Schultheis | City Editor


Positive Change for LBK and The Islandside Property Owners Coalition clashed Wednesday, Jan. 20 over whether the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project was right for the community and whether it can be approved as proposed.

Robert Gault, a Country Club Shores resident and the former chief executive officer of Universal Studios-Orlando, testified for Positive Change for LBK Wednesday morning, at Temple Beth Israel, explaining that Longboat Key “is in a major competitive battle for high-end tourism visitation.”

“Please make a smart, common sense, market-driven decision to support our club, which will improve property for all of Longboat Key,” Gault said.

Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said even just the approval of the project “will generate excitement for Longboat Key’s tourism community that’s been lacking for years.”

“If we can tell a new story of Longboat, we can get these people back in the pipeline,” Haley said.

IPOC Chairman Bob White, however, said he doesn’t believe the residents of the Key ever said they wanted the island to be a major tourist destination.

“The club has not provided sufficient evidence that this development is beneficial or adverse to the neighborhood and contributes to the public interest,” White said. “This project is not right for the site, the neighborhood or the Key.”

The Town Commission and both parties agreed to cross-examine Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson’s testimony on the 5%  limitation on non-residential development at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at the temple.

Simpson testified Wednesday that the applicant (Key Club) is requesting a departure of the 5% limitation. Simpson said the applicant wants 15.1% non-residential to build its project, or 10%  more than currently allowed for non-residential development.

IPOC attorney Michael Furen said Wednesday the club cannot ask for a departure for the 5% limitation in a planned unit development.

Said Furen: “If you can grant departures from the regulations that govern planned unit developments, what’s the point of the regulation in the first place?”

The public is scheduled to begin making their testimony to the Town Commission this afternoon.

For more information on the fifth and sixth days of hearings, check www.yourobserver.com for updates and pick up a copy of Thursday’s Jan. 28 Longboat Observer.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com.


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Currently 2 Responses

  • 1.
  • That tourism benefits the Florida economy is beyond argument. That it benefits Florida residential real estate also is beyond question. Likewise, that LBKC expansion/redevelopment will benefit -- not threaten -- residents and residential real estate on LBK is beyond question. Approve the plan.
  • Whit Sibley
    Fri 22nd Jan 2010
    at 12:02pm
  • 2.
  • The vitality of Longboat Key is directly linked to the Longboat Key Club. Failure to permit the Club to update its facilities will result in the ultimate demise of Longboat Key's status as a premier community with attendant deterioration in its desirability as a primary or secondary residential area with attendant reductions in real estate values. With that, there goes the tax base and consequent beauty and safety of the community.

    The Club is offering a major improvement in its golf course (which many of the expansion opponents say is poor) and in its other facilities.
    To permit those improvements to be made, the Club must have some money to pay those costs. Is it so hard for the people who have developed enough wealth to afford homes on LBK to understand simple economics?

    Come on, get your heads out of that lovely beach sand (or sand traps)!

    Let's support what the Club is trying to do.

    Marvin Baker
  • CarolAnn Baker
    Thu 21st Jan 2010
    at 5:10pm
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