The Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) wants more time to decide whether the Town Commission’s decision in May to adopt changes to its codes is consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
DCA Assistant General Counsel Lynette Norr sent an e-mail to Longboat Key Town Attorney David Persson and Islandside Property Owners Coalition attorney Michael Furen Friday, Sept. 3, alerting them the department would like to delay its consistency determination from Sept. 13 to Oct. 13.
Both the town and IPOC agreed to the 30-day extension.
The Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC) filed an administrative appeal July 14, challenging code changes approved by the Town Commission May 3.
The Longboat Key Club and Resort submitted the seven changes to the code in an effort to diminish many of the legal challenges presented by IPOC, which opposes the club’s $400 million renovation-and-expansion project.
Because the town chose not to respond to a request by IPOC to amend the changes made within 30 days of its request, IPOC attorney Michael Furen filed the administrative appeal that’s now under review with the DCA in Tallahassee.
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, Norr and DCA planner Scott Rogers heard appeal testimony from IPOC, the town and Key Club officials at the SunTrust Bank Building on Bay Isles Road.
IPOC attorneys argued that the code changes are inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive plan, which acts as the town’s guide for future development.
Persson, meanwhile, maintains that the comprehensive plan may not be perfect, but it was approved by the DCA, and the code changes are consistent with the current plan.
On Tuesday, Sept. 7, Persson told The Longboat Observer he believes “it’s a good sign” that DCA wants to take a longer look at the issue before them.
“Longboat’s land-use regulations aren’t the most self-apparent to someone who is not familiar with working with them,” Persson said. “But I think once DCA understands the regulatory system, it should become more apparent that the changes to the code are consistent with the town’s state-approved comprehensive plan.”
If the state decides that the town’s actions were inconsistent with its comprehensive plan, the matter is referred to the governor and his cabinet, who have the ability to impose sanctions on the town, including taking away revenue-sharing funds that includes funds available for town beach renourishment projects.
IPOC also has the right to file an appeal with the District Court of Appeals if DCA disagrees with IPOC’s view.
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