Islandside Property Owners Coalition attorney Michael Furen disputed the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation and expansion project Thursday, Nov. 5, at Temple Beth Israel by explaining the project “isn’t compliant” with the town’s current codes and regulations.
“This hearing and the review of the application before it are not about the quality of the applicants, the quality of the consultants, the quality of the proposal, the economic needs of the community or whether the development could be a potential economic stimulus to the Key,” Furen said. “What this hearing is about is whether the town will preserve the integrity of a completely built out planned unit development plan that was approved over 30 years ago.”
Furen said the hearing is really “about the hundreds of people who made significant life changing, lifestyle decisions and spent millions of dollars to purchase homes in the Islandside community, which relied on the integrity of the planned unit development.”
More than 200 Longboat Key residents, business owners and attorneys filled the temple for the third day of hearings about the club’s project.
The planning board is charged with making a recommendation to the Town Commission about a $400 million proposal that includes a new Rees Jones-designed golf course; a new clubhouse; a new 196 room five-star hotel with an additional 34 units to be used either for tourism or residences; a new meeting center; two villa townhomes with a total of 10 units; two condominium buildings with 66 units each; a new Wellness Center with enhanced spa and fitness facilities; and other recreational amenities for club members and guests.
Furen displayed various outline development plans and amendments approved over the years for Islandside, which state the Islandside golf course and clubhouse sites are not listed as development sites and the club cannot transfer density from one tract to another in the gulf-planned development for use in its proposed project.
Furen also maintained there is protection in place for the Islandside recreational facilities, “which require the club to be a private membership club that shall not be operated primarily as a commercial enterprise open to the public.”
Numerous outline development plans on file at Town Hall for Islandside, Furen said, show the gulf-planned development “as primarily residential in character with limited commercial development.”
Although Furen admitted he did represent a client years ago that received permission to rezone a portion of the Islandside gulf-planned development from commercial use to residential, he explained his client “was not asking to rezone an existing development site that was dedicated as recreational space.”
Furen also presented a Web site from Blackpoint Partners, which listed The Longboat Key Club and Resort as a client that received help with refinancing “and created a master plan for 1,600 new units for the club,” referring the club might continue to ask to build more units eventually at Islandside and Bay Isles at Harbourside.
Key Club attorney John Patterson, however, objected to Furen using the Web site, explaining that a former Loeb employee that is the chief executive officer of Blackpoint Partners has submitted a sworn statement indicating the information on the Web site “was totally false.
“This is a blatant attempt to create some kind of fear based on false Web site information,” said Patterson, who explained his client does not have a 1,600 development plan in the works.
Furen said the point of bringing up the Web site was to point out “there is significant unused density in the gulf-planned development that could be used for future development.”
Marty Black, an IPOC consultant who was the town’s former planning and zoning official, was the defense’s next speaker. Black explained the town’s outline development plan preserves the Islandside open space and recreational amenities in place.
Black also said the town has indicated there is a build-out capacity on the island that states there are only 104 total units available left for development on the island.
“The applicant has understated the intensity of this project,” said Black, who also questioned whether the project’s meeting center could be labeled as an accessory use because it’s being placed on a separate parcel of land.
Black said there are “a series of inconsistencies with the project” relating to the town’s Comprehensive Plan and the density and gross land area calculations the club used for the proposal.
It’s Black’s opinion that residential units can only be approved on the Islandside recreational properties by rezoning the property first.
Furen’s co-counsel, attorney Robert Lincoln, told the Planning and Zoning Board “it’s clear the various provision of the land development code has been designed to prevent exactly what this applicant is proposing, which is to convert a designated tract to commercial uses.”
“We believe the only way the applicant could attain project approval would be to remove the lands from the gulf-planned development and rezone those portions of the property,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln said town’s codes and Comprehensive Plan prohibit commercial uses and new tourism uses in the gulf-planned development.
“The proposed hotel, spa, restaurant, meeting rooms, offices and clubhouse are prohibited because they are commercial uses,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln will continue his presentation to the planning board at 1 p.m. and the hearing is expected to continue 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6.
For more information, visit www.yourobserver.com today for live updates regarding the hearing.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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