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Longboat Key Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 1 year ago

Gary Coffin appointed to Longboat's Planning & Zoning Board

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Coffin fills the vacancy left by Ken Marsh.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key town commissioners voted 7-0 Monday afternoon to appoint Gary Coffin to fill a vacancy on the Planning & Zoning Board.

Coffin takes over for Ken Marsh, who resigned from his seat in October.

“There’s only one candidate who has actually called me and expressed further interest,” Schneier said of Coffin.

Coffin’s term expires on May 12, 2021. He could be sworn in on Dec. 15 at the next P&Z meeting.

Schneier said Coffin was also the preferred candidate of P&Z Chair David Green.

Christopher Carman, Gary Ehlers, Leonard Garner, Aaron Kleiner and Margaret Nuzzo also submitted applications for consideration.

For most of the pandemic, the P&Z Board has operated with six members. The town commission was unable to hold an in-person event to meet the candidates.

“I would prefer to have a full, seven-board complement attending the meetings and making decisions so that we have one more voice that could speak up about potential items coming before us and to get their perspective,” Green said. “It also creates an odd number so if for some reason we had a closely-divided decision, it would be more of a tie-breaking situation.”

Green said the six-member P&Z Board has not been a problem, though. 

Before Marsh’s resignation, the board operated with six members with the departure of BJ Bishop. She was sworn in to the town commission in March. Commissioners appointed Jay Plager to the P&Z Board in September to fill Bishop’s vacancy.

Bishop explained Monday why she thinks the town commission should wait until March 2021 to appoint anyone to fill the upcoming two vacancies the P&Z Board faces. Current P&Z members Penelope “Penny” Gold and Debra Williams are both considered commissioner-elects. In March 2021, they will take over for District 2 Commissioner George Spoll and District 4 Commissioner Jack Daly, respectively.

“When they join the town commission, I would hope that they would have the opportunity to weigh in on the people who replace them because they will have to work with that Board for three years that their term becomes effective,” Bishop said.

The current commission agreed to wait until Gold and Williams become commissioners to figure out the two vacancies the P&Z Board will face.

Vice Mayor Mike Haycock expressed his desire for commissioners to hold either an in-person meeting or a Zoom session with the P&Z candidates.

“I just found that, that process to be terrific and I really miss not being able to see everybody and talk to them,” Haycock said.

“Sounds like a good idea,” District 5 Commissioner Ed Zunz said.

Commissioners also appointed Jack Brill and Paul Levine to serve on the Citizens’ Tax Oversight Committee. Their terms expire May 8, 2022.

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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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