My View: Lessons learned? Or not? We shall see


My View: Lessons learned? Or not? We shall see


Date: September 12, 2012
by: Bob White | Guest Columnist



Last week’s Longboat Observer editorial, “Don’t give up; lessons learned,” has some cogent remarks on the proceedings surrounding the Key Club’s expansion proposal and the recent court rulings overturning the approval.

Particularly noteworthy was the editorial’s conclusion that what was lacking was an approach by the town to “Let us help you figure out what it will take to get you where you want to go as long as it’s within the confines of the law.”

Instead, the town fathers took a different approach: “Let us help you get where you want to go regardless of the law.”

This approach has sullied the town’s governance, resulting in reprimands from both courts, which respectively characterized its actions as a “miscarriage of justice” and stated that “residents have every right to depend on the wording of the code” in their concurring opinions that the town’s approval of this plan violated the law.

Taking no chances, the town hedged its bets against the possibility of an embarrassing loss in court. Not waiting for the decision, the town changed the town code and comprehensive plan specifically to allow more commercial density, higher buildings and more lot coverage in the Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) Key-wide. They also eliminated the requirement for findings of fact or demonstration of hardship to support departures from the code. These changes provide this and future Town Commissions virtually unrestricted power to approve whatever they want, rendering the zoning code of little meaning and ending property owners’ ability to rely on it.

Regarding the Longboat Observer’s editorial, while we agree with its conclusion, we take issue with the portrayal of IPOC as “a small group of the Key Club’s neighbors (who) simply did not want to see the Key Club build what it proposed.” This sounds like it came straight from the Key Club’s PR campaign and begs the facts.

IPOC is supported by eight homeowner associations representing some 730 residences and funded, primarily, by voluntary contributions from individual residents and property owners. In comparison, the so-called Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC), claims a membership of slightly more than 100 (down from 500 in 2003, according to published reports). PIC has been a vocal supporter of the club’s project, but has never been depicted by the Longboat Observer as “a small group of supporters of commercial expansion,” as PIC has become.

It’s true that we didn’t want to see the Key Club build at the scale and intensity the club proposed, but it is not true that we wanted it to build nothing, as the article implied. A survey of our residents found that 93% opposed the club’s plan as proposed; but a majority of the respondents supported reasonable modification of the project, not its elimination.

Alternatives have been offered. Contrary to our critics, IPOC has proposed or agreed to accept five alternative configurations of the Key Club’s project, all have been documented; some have been reported in the press. All have been rejected by the club, claiming they were not economically feasible, despite the fact that proposals were offered involving less than a 15% reduction in the number of total residential or hotel units it proposed.

Its new prospective partner, Ocean Properties Ltd., might be a positive development. Unlike Loeb Partners Realty, which owns only one other resort property, OPL has 14 four-star properties and specializes in waterfront locations, according to its website.

Although its record is not without controversy — it has been fined numerous times for building-permit violations — it at least has a track record of developing and operating many high-end hotels and resorts. Perhaps its involvement will result in a solution to the current impasse in the form of a more appropriate plan that will truly benefit the Key and one that our members can support.

Bob White is president of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition LLC.


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Currently 1 Response

  • 1.
  • Here is a far too typical review for Mr. Welly's Key Club Resort:

    “Average, overpriced hotel. Great location. Beware of bed bugs!”
    Reviewed September 8, 2012 NEW
    Stayed here from 8/28-9/4. The hotel is in a great location on a gorgeous beach but that's all it has going for it. Way too much per night for what it is. In fact ridiculously overpriced, $1900.00 for 7 nights and that includes nothing, plus they charge $14/day "resort fee". The property is old and dated, room was ok, nothing special, although the shower (water pressure) was the best of any hotel we've been to before. Very loud AC when it kicks on. Pool area is very simple, service is inconsistent. Food and drinks very expensive with an automatic 20% gratuity charged. On the last day there, only one server was walking around and never came up to ask if we wanted anything, I ended up going to order lunch for my children directly at the bar. After a long while of waiting my husband went to check on the order and it was sitting there waiting for us to pick it up, no one bothered telling us it was ready even though there was barely anyone at the pool that day, and they still charged us the gratuity!!!!!! why do I have to pay gratuity if no one served us!!!!! You order a drink at the bar ($12-15 average price) they charge gratuity!!!!! Outrageous!!!! we only had dinner at one of their restaurants on the night we arrived as we were not familiar with the area, went to Portofino which was a 3 mile shuttle ride lol, spent over $100 on some pasta and a kid's pizza. The rest of the week we had dinner at St. Armand's circle, which is nearby and was wonderful for shopping, walking around people watching. Had dinner 3 times at El Columbia Restaurant, very good cuban/spanish food, delicious mojitos and very reasonably priced. Kids menu has awesome palomillo steak and fries for like $7. Average dinner for 4 was like $70 for very good food. Also ate at Venezia, not recommended and terrible service. Had ice cream at Kilwin's every night, yes it's that good and line out the door. Breakfast one morning only (we bought breakfast foods at Publix and ate in the room) at the Blue Dolphin Cafe, very average, bland food, crappy service.
    I agree with a previous reviewer about bed bugs, I didn't see them but I woke up with red welts by mid week all over my ankles, arms, hands, legs. First I thought they were mosquito bites from walking around St. Armands in the evenings but they were so itchy and looked different from regular bites. After reading the review and looking up bed bug bite images, I believe that's what I had and still am getting over as they take a long time to go away. I had the tell tale cluster of bites or "3 in a row" pattern. Gross. I only pray we didn't bring any home with us in the luggage or clothing. Another incident we had at the hotel was one night, around 10:30pm, as we were getting ready for bed, the fire alarm in our building (#5) went off. There was no fire and after the fire dept came to inspect, the hotel manager said it was someone that set it off as a prank. I read older reviews and apparently this has happened before. Not sure if there is some glitch with their system, but my kids were scared to death and my son had trouble sleeping that night. Housekeeping didn't leave us any bath towels one day. Lobby staff snobbish. I am giving this hotel 3 stars because of it's location and beautiful beach, otherwise, the nightly rate at this hotel is exorbitant for what you get, which is basically a place to sleep and shower. Would stay elsewhere if visiting this area again in the future.

    Stayed August 2012, traveled with family

    Do we really trust Welly to not turn the Key Club into a tourist trap catering to bussloads of tee-shirted tourists and their overweight offspring. The perspective new owners run a string of economical motels.The Longboat property owners should buy out Loeb to protect our investment in our exclusive community. Why do I believe that Loeb Paetners are financially desperate and will sell-out to anyone?
  • gene jaleski
    Thu 13th Sep 2012
    at 12:29pm
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