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Longboat Key Thursday, Jul. 2, 2020 1 month ago

Board member's nomination held until September

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Planning and Zoning Board appointment has been delayed.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Town Commission won’t appoint a seventh member to the Planning and Zoning Board until after the summer recess.

The commission is considering eight candidates to fill the position: Christopher Carman, Gary Coffin, Gary Ehlers, Aaron Kleiner, Maryl Levine, Margaret Nuzzo, Sheldon Jay Plager and Jack Wilson.

Mayor Ken Schneier voiced his support for Plager during Tuesday’s virtual commission meeting.

“People have had an opportunity to meet these people. I’ve met or spoken with just about all of them,” Schneier said. “I would say that Mr. Plager is an incredible find for us as a community with his background and experience, a lot of it as a professor dealing with property law.”

Schneier cited Plager’s experience as a Senior U.S. Circuit Court Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Plus, Schneier pointed out that Plager and Gary Coffin are the only two candidates representing District 1. If either are appointed to the board’s seventh seat, they would also be the only one representing District 1.

Vice Mayor Mike Haycock, District 1 Commissioner Sherry Dominick and District 5 Commissioner Ed Zunz also voiced their support for Plager on Tuesday.

“That was the name I would wholly endorse," Dominick said.

At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop said she prefers someone other than Plager to fill the vacancy. She didn’t say who specifically on Tuesday.

“[Plager] would not be my first choice, but if you have a majority who would support it, go ahead,” Bishop said.

Zunz said he tried calling Plager “three or four times” to learn more about him as a candidate.

“I’ve never gotten an answer and I’ve never gotten a call back,” Zunz said. “I was just very disappointed.”

Bishop also said she had problems reaching candidates over the phone.

Part of the reason the commission has yet to nominate a seventh member to the P&Z Board is because of the desire to host an in-person event to meet the candidates. However, commissioners have been unable to have such an event because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ken, I don’t feel strongly, but I don’t sense that there’s any urgency here with respect to making the appointment now,” District 4 Commissioner Jack Daly said. “I would lean — I don’t feel strongly — but I’d lean towards doing it in September.”

In April, commissioners reappointed David Green to remain on the P&Z Board. The seventh seat on the board exists because Bishop was elected to the town commission in March.

Commissioners on Tuesday agreed by consensus to hold off on appointing the seventh P&Z Board member until the next commission meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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