The town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment upheld Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson’s decision to deem the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside application complete at its Thursday, Sept. 17 regular meeting.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 75 people, many of who were wearing “I Support the Club” badges, applauded the board’s decision.
The Longboat Key Association, which owns Longboat Club Road, appealed Simpson’s decision to deem the application complete in July, forcing the zoning board to review Simpson’s decision.
Longboat Key Association attorney Richard Ulrich stated in his appeal that as the owner of the road, the association must sign off on the construction application for all new driveways, road entrances and right-of-way modifications.
And on Thursday, Ulrich said the association must be a party of the application because easements that exist between property parcels and the road itself make the road a party of the project.
“An easement is a right of use over the property of another,” Ulrich said. “It’s imperative that owners of the road be a part of any application that will have any effect on this property.”
Longboat Key Club and Resort attorney Jim Syprett, however, disputed Ulrich’s claim by entering into the record several residential project applications that have been built on club property over the course of 20 years.
“Never has the roadway in any of these applications been a signature of the application or refused cooperation with the town in its approval process for an application,” Syprett said.
Simpson also told the zoning board that the town and the state, which own a significant amount of street right-of-way, has never signed as a co-applicant for any development that has been built on the island.
“Staff recommends denial of the appeal petition, allowing the application to be consider by the Planning and Zoning Board as submitted,” Simpson said.
The zoning board was told by town special counsel attorney Nancy Stroud that Simpson’s determination is presumed to be correct as a matter of law and can only be overturned “if the decision is clearly erroneous.”
Zoning board member Gaele Barthold moved to uphold Simpson’s decision.
“Based on the legal argument presented, it’s my opinion the decision should be upheld and the appellant (the road association) did not meet their burden,” Barthold said.
Zoning board George Pasini agreed.
“It’s time to move on and review the merits of this application,” Pasini said.
All four zoning board members agreed to move the application forward, prompting the majority of those in attendance to applaud.
Town staff will now move forward with looking for an off-site location for the planning and zoning board to review the $400 million project next month at public hearings to be held Oct. 21 and Oct. 22.
The scaled-back plan club officials filed in November calls for 196 hotel units on seven floors; 132 golf club condos on seven floors; and 10 villas in two buildings near New Pass.
The Islandside Property Owners Coalition, which opposes the project as proposed, hired land-use attorney Michael Furen to defend its interests next month and dispute whether the project can be built from a legal standpoint.
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