It’s déjà vu for the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s $400 million Islandside application.
This time, The Longboat Key Association, which owns Longboat Club Road, appealed Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson’s (formerly Monica Daigle) decision to deem the Islandside application complete last month.
Longboat Key Association attorney Richard Ulrich, who was hired in June by association President Robert Goodman and the rest of the association board, states in his appeal that the association must sign the application because it’s the owner of property that requires construction of new driveways, road-entrance-and right-of-way modifications.
Goodman and the association hired Ulrich after the association’s former attorney, Sarasota attorney Robert Moore, stated in a letter to Goodman that, in his legal opinion, the town can approve curb-cut modifications to Longboat Key Club Road without approval from the association.
Goodman, however, said that Moore’s statement “was made without the approval of the Longboat Key Association Board.”
The appeal was filed three days before the window for appeals for the application closed Monday, Aug. 17.
Ulrich requests that the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment hear the appeal, because the association members “are persons aggrieved by the planning and zoning official’s determination of completeness.”
Ulrich maintains the association, as the owner of the road, will also be adversely affected by the project as a business entity from increased traffic, increased maintenance assessments and substantial alterations to the road’s utility-management systems.
It’s the second time Simpson’s completeness of the application has been challenged this year.
In January, The L’Ambiance at Longboat Key Club Condominium Association and two Sanctuary community associations filed an appeal of Simpson’s initial completeness ruling.
Simpson later reversed her ruling, not deeming the application complete until the club resubmitted its application this summer. The revised application made no reference to modification of the Islandside guardhouse, which was a point of contention in the original appeal, or any major changes to Longboat Club Road.
Simpson made her second completeness ruling last month, after town special counsel attorney Nancy Stroud informed Simpson that, in her legal opinion, curb cuts to the road do not require the owner of the road to sign the application.
Ulrich isn’t the only Sarasota attorney who has an issue with Simpson’s second completeness ruling.
Icard Merrill attorney Robert Lincoln argues the plan still includes curb cuts to the road that, in his legal opinion, require an application signature from the road association. Lincoln represents the Islandside Property Owners Coalition, which did not officially appeal Simpson’s ruling.
Key Club attorneys John Patterson and Brenda Patten, however, have stated that, in their legal opinion, the association is not a landowner of real property subject to the application itself.
Patterson has also stated the association has never signed any other application where past improvements were made.
In a prepared statement submitted to The Longboat Observer, Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly said he was surprised and disappointed by the latest appeal, calling it “a delaying tactic by a small group of detractors.”
“Town staff has already analyzed our application twice and deemed it complete,” Welly said. “Now staff will be forced to waste precious time and resources to evaluate yet another frivolous challenge.”
Welly said the club looks forward to the eventual public hearings so that residents can objectively evaluate the merits of the proposal.
The appeal means the possible October public hearing for the Planning and Zoning Board to review the project will be on hold until Town Attorney David Persson can make a decision this week on whether the appeal will be heard before the zoning board.
“Even if this appeal goes before the zoning board, I don’t expect it to significantly delay the process,” Persson said. “Hopefully, the planning and zoning board’s schedule will not be changed.”
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