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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 7, 2010 7 years ago

Brown responds to IPOC president

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Vice Mayor Jim Brown responded to an e-mail dated July 1 that Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White sent to a distribution list.

Below are both e-mails in their entirety.

• Bob White’s e-mail, dated Thursday, July 1:

Despite the firmly stated opinion of Monica Simpson, town Planning and Zoning director, that the Key Club’s proposed project was too massive, too dense, required too many departures, was inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and would result in an overbuilt site, the Town Commission, after paying some lip service to her concerns and recommendation of denial, approved the club’s plan with no changes, thus relegating to the dustbin over 26 years of zoning designed to prevent just such a project.

If this approval stands it will change the face and the character of Longboat Key as we know it and open the door for more massive, intense development elsewhere on the Key.

The Town Commission has caved in to the Loeb organization’s demands, including every one of the dwelling units that (they) claim they need at the expense of the Key’s residents and the town’s character and zoning.

We expected more from our elected representatives.

The lone vote against the plan was Commissioner Robert Siekmann, a voice of reason and responsibility in a decision devoid of these attributes.

Recognizing their exposure to the wrath of aggrieved homeowners and the costs of defending the commission’s decision, the town attempted to cover itself by making the costs of defense the responsibility of the Loeb organization a condition of approval.

The club has 30 days to accept the approval and any aggrieved parties, including IPOC, have 30 days to file a judicial appeal of the decision.

Needless to say the final chapter in this saga has not yet been written.

Bob White
Islandside Property Owners Coalition President

• Vice Mayor Jim Brown’s e-mail was sent Friday, July 2 to White:

While I don’t usually like to respond to e-mails of this nature, I feel compelled to counter some of your misleading statements.

During this long process, you and others from IPOC have made many statements that have misrepresented the facts. Your characterization that the commission paid lip service  and then ignored Planning Director Simpson’s opinion is just not true. I can tell you that I hold her opinion very highly. As was stated many times during the hearings, her job is to interpret the proposals based on the comp. plan and codes in their strict sense. She cannot make judgment calls. The commission on the other hand has that discretion. The language of the Comprehensive Plan clearly gives the commission that authority. This fact has never been accepted by you, as that would mean you would have to concede that your opinions are incorrect. In a dramatic fashion you state over and over as if the more time you say it the truer it will become, that the project is too dense and massive. Those are subjective statements and are countered by others including myself. You state that you expect better from your elected officials. What does it say that the candidates you chose to support heavily with your money lost their seats by a large margin? I think it says that your positions on the issue are not those of most of the voters of Longboat Key.

While I expected to continue to hear your threats of lawsuits, I would think it would be interesting for you to poll the citizens of Longboat to see how popular your lawsuit would be.

I also hope you understand that even the delays of lawsuits will not stop the development from being built. All that will happen if the challenges are successful in some way is that the design will be modified to conform to the findings and the project will go forward. You will have spent your money and time only to see a modified project built.

As you say, “The final chapter has not been written,” but the ending very likely has.

Hopefully, cooler minds will prevail and you and your fellow IPOC members will not take this decision as a personal challenge to them. We don’t have to agree and we don’t always get everything we want so why can’t (you) just accept that the project will be good for our island and stop seeing the decision as being against you. It’s not about you, it’s about the future of Longboat.

Bob, I admire your passion, but being passionate and being right are not always the same.

Jim Brown
Vice Mayor


White sent this e-mail to Brown July 6 in reponse to Brown's e-mail. It was not available as of press time.

Commissioner Brown,
Your contention that my e-mail misrepresented the facts is neither true or supported by any evidence to the contrary, only your inaccurate opinions.

Your lengthy explanation of Monica Simpson’s role and the commission's authority was unnecessary as I am aware that the commission is not required to accept the town planner's (planning, zoning and building director’s) recommendation. Contrary to your claim, I have never indicated otherwise.

I disagree, however, that her only responsibility is to interpret the code.

Her staff report included her professional judgment that the club's project was too dense, intense, overbuilt and inconsistent with town policy, in addition to detailing the numerous problems with the code. While you may not be required to heed her recommendation, your decision is certainly subject to a critical review of your judgment and findings of fact.

Whether a majority of Longboat residents are in favor of the club's plan is debatable, but it’s not the sole measure of relevancy. Most Key residents won't be impacted with the dramatic alteration of their neighborhood and lifestyle that Islandside residents are facing. There are an abundance of laws in our nation that are designed to protect minority interests from the whims of often fickle popular opinion.
Protection of property and neighborhoods from radical transformation, through restrictive zoning and land use codes, is but one example.

The commission’s action smacks of populist politics, subrogating the interests of a minority of residents (who inconveniently happen to have the law and longstanding policy on their side) for the questionable claim of benefit to the supposed majority.

As to your contention that the plan will proceed even if a lawsuit is successful, this may unfortunately be true, given the compliancy of the current commission with Loeb demands and the commission’s willingness to abort your previously approved plan (a plan which we had agreed to accept) based upon Loeb’s assertion, with no supporting evidence, that they needed even more condominiums. Assuming that the commission would also be willing to make additional changes to the code or Comprehensive Plan that would be necessary to cure any court adjudicated violations, you may well be able to circumvent the spirit of the law and shove this overbuilt scheme down our collective throats, to the detriment of all concerned.

With the plan you approved on first reading, you had the makings of a responsible compromise — you blew it.

Bob White, president
Islandside Property Owners Coalition, LLC


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