The referendum will decide whether to allow 180 residential units on top of the existing 237 tourism units in the planned $1B redevelopment.
Longboat Key voters will get their say on the planned Colony Resort redevelopment.
Longboat Key commissioners approved by a 5-2 vote a request Monday by Orlando-based developer Chuck Whittall to place the referendum on the March 14 ballot. Discussion of the issue grew heated at times.
“Man, it was painful,” Whittall said the day after the contentious debate. “Give us a chance to get out in front of the voters.”
Commissioners Ed Zunz and Phill Younger lobbied strongly against placing the “grandiose plan” for Colony Resort on the ballot. Younger pointed out the previous three votes on projects to increase density on Longboat Key went down to resounding defeats.
“They’ve sent a message they don’t want this,” Younger said of Longboat residents. “They don’t want increased density. I think we should deny this referendum. You need to start listening to the voters.”
Younger challenged Whittall over his ownership of the property, but Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale confirmed Whittall owned the property.
Commissioners Irwin Pastor, Jack Daly and Armando Linde said voters should be allowed to consider the Colony Resort density increase. Newly appointed Mayor Terry Gans and Commissioner George Spoll agreed.
A crowd of roughly 50 people attended Monday’s meeting. Most were there to comment on the
Height regulations have become a contentious aspect of proposed new town codes, which will help shape any redevelopment plans for the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
“We all believe it should be redeveloped,” said Longboat Key resident John Rutledge. “But to add another 180 units is beyond comprehension.”
Longboat Key resident Bill Cook said he also opposes adding tourism units, which are usually much smaller than residential condos.
“You don’t want a rabbit hutch,” Cook said. “You want a palace.”
Gans, sworn in earlier in the meeting to replace Mayor Jack Duncan, tried to keep the focus on the referendum question.
“This is a relatively simply petition to determine whether this goes before voters or not,” said Gans.
The Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department is rewriting town codes to deal with the array of nonconforming, aging properties on the island. The Colony Resort is filled with them, but it’s not alone.
Roughly 80% of Longboat Key structures do not conform to code, according to Planning & Zoning Board Chairman Jim Brown.
“I own this property,” Whittall said. “We will figure out a way to get this done.”
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