Islandside Property Owners Coalition attorney Michael Furen submitted a 15-page administrative petition challenge to the Town Clerk Friday, June 4, challenging zoning code amendments the Town Commission approved on May 20.
On Friday, April 30, Furen sent a draft of the petition to town attorney David Persson and town special counsel attorney Nancy Stroud, as a warning that the petition would be submitted if the commission approved the amendments.
When asked why the draft and the subsequent petition were submitted, Furen said, “We hope that the town realizes there is a serious problem with these zoning code amendments.”
The seven proposed amendments to the code were submitted to the town by the Longboat Key Club and Resort to diminish much of the legal challenges presented by IPOC.
Since the club filed its outline development plan for a $400 million Islandside renovation-and-expansion project, Furen has maintained the project cannot be built as proposed in accordance with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations.
The petition calls for relief pursuant to a state statute, challenging the adopted land development regulations of the town on the basis they are inconsistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
The petition points out many provisions of the Comprehensive Plan, which “ensure the compatibility of adjacent land uses,” “preserve and enhance the character of Longboat Key” and place emphasis “upon the protection of the visual and aesthetic character of neighborhoods, including open space.”
The petition also claims the Comprehensive Plan does not allow for commercial, office, industrial and any other non-residential uses in a gulf-planned development and does not allow clustering of density.
IPOC requests in the petition the town immediately amend and revise the town’s zoning code to be consistent with its Comprehensive Plan and refuse to issue any development orders or permits based on the code amendments.
Furen said IPOC is ready to start an administrative review process and stresses this action is not a lawsuit.
The town now has 30 days to respond to the petition and correct its actions.
If the town does nothing to correct the actions taken, IPOC can file a petition with the state’s Department of Community Affairs, which would have 60 days to review the matter and make a decision.
If DCA determines the town’s actions are inconsistent, then the matter is referred to the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings and an administrative law judge holds a hearing on Longboat Key with both parties.
If a law judge agrees the town’s actions were inconsistent with its Comprehensive Plan, the matter is referred to the governor and his cabinet, which Furen said has the ability to impose sanctions on the town, including taking away revenue sharing funds that includes funds available for town beach renourishment projects.
Key Club attorney John Patterson was not surprised the petition was submitted Friday.
Said Patterson: “It’s the same old arguments from IPOC that have been raised before and rejected before by the commission, the town’s special counsel, the town attorney and the town’s planning director.”
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