Town Attorney David Persson sent an e-mail to Longboat Key town commissioners Wednesday, Oct. 28, advising them to consider “politely declining” a Sleepy Lagoon Homeowners meeting next week.
Because the main topic of discussion at the Wednesday, Nov. 4 meeting will be the site plan for the future Christ Church of Longboat Key, Presbyterian multi-functional building planned at 6400 Gulf of Mexico Drive and General Harris Street.
Several Sleepy Lagoon residents are upset with the project, which must be approved by the Town Commission, because they are worried about traffic and parking concerns in their community.
Persson, however, suggested commissioners consider staying away from the meeting.
Wrote Persson: “I just wanted to remind you that you are the final authority for site plan applications. The church’s request is a site plan application. Therefore you will hear this quasi-judicial application at an advertised public meeting. Attendance at the Sleepy Lagoon meeting where this will be discussed will be an ex-parte communication.”
Persson explained that the town’s policy, established by a resolution, discourages ex-parte communications.
Ex-parte communication is any conversation held about a particular hearing before it is heard before the commission in an advertised meeting setting.
“I think it is obvious that the more ex-parte communications that occur, the more the formal process of review could be viewed as tainted,” Persson wrote.
Persson also used the church site plan to allude to bigger issues, such as The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside expansion and renovation plan.
“While this might not be a huge issue with a church site plan, it could be with other projects,” Persson wrote.
Persson explained that mere attendance at the meeting is okay, as long as two or more commissioners are not exchanging ideas about the project.
“It is for these reasons that I continue to recommend that invitations of this nature be politely declined,” Persson wrote.
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