I would like to take this opportunity to address the Longboat Key Club’s request for a continuance regarding its Islandside redevelopment application, which has caused a further delay in the Town Commission hearings.
Only a few days prior to the Friday, Feb. 19 hearing, several issues with the interpretation of town codes, as they relate to the application, were raised by town staff. These issues, depending on their resolution, could have created a stumbling block for the town to move forward with the club’s redevelopment application. We, therefore, thought it was prudent to request a continuance to allow us to work with town staff, as we have in the past, to reach a mutually acceptable solution. If you have attended the hearings, you have witnessed firsthand the frustration experienced by the attorneys and the town staff as they have attempted to interpret the town’s convoluted code for a common direction.
Although the commission expressed their frustration as well, the fact is that, given the circumstances, neither the town nor the club was prepared to move forward, and everyone shares this frustration. The long delay does not represent the time necessary to solve our issues, but rather recognizes that, in fairness to all, the hearings and the upcoming elections were becoming too close for comfort. The upcoming election caused concern as the schedule indicated that the second reading of the club’s application would have likely taken place after the election, and so any decision rendered by the sitting commission could have been overturned by the new commission after the election.
Our motives for changing the redevelopment plan have been questioned as well. Let me be crystal clear: The changes are in direct response to the town’s recommendations and what we understood was the Islandside Property Owners Coalition’s main objection to the club’s redevelopment — the height of the golf-course condominium buildings. Please remember, the club’s redevelopment was previously scaled back by 20% in reaction to concerns raised by our neighbors.
During the Planning and Zoning Board hearings, the suggestion was made to move some of the residential golf-course condo units to the top of the new hotel. We decided to make these adjustments in an effort to appease our neighbors and as a show of good faith. This is not an ideal solution for the club, which lost more than 20,000 square feet of saleable condo space and the top three floors of the golf-course condominiums as a result.
Unfortunately, this sacrifice has been met with the same reaction as our earlier 20% reduction. To date, we have dispelled every objection lobbied by the opposition against the redevelopment. And in the 11th hour, we have extended yet another expensive olive branch to unite this community for the common good. IPOC has yet to constructively respond to the revised plan.
No further changes are possible without rendering the club’s redevelopment financially unviable — this is simply a statement of fact.
I value and thank you for your understanding during these trying times, and your overwhelming good-will, friendship and support.
Michael Welly is the general manager of the Longboat Key Club and Resort.
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