A major glitch in the town of Longboat Key’s Charter was fixed with one stroke of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s pen June 20 in Tallahassee.
Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale informed the Longboat Key Town Commission in a June 20 email that Senate Bill 374 was signed into law, preserving a referendum protection in the Charter that was unintentionally altered by the Legislature more than a year ago.
The bill Scott signed now excludes Longboat Key from a ban on local growth management referendums imposed by the Legislature in 2011. The ban was a response to the proposed "Hometown Democracy" constitutional amendment, rejected by voters, which would have required referendums on local development decisions.
The Charter was in limbo in regards to future density increases because the Legislature approved at a session last year a two-page bill that nixed the referendum process statewide and also nixed any referendum performed on or after June 1, 2011.
For Longboat Key, that meant a referendum that was approved by the island’s registered voters Nov. 6, 2012 that allowed two properties to convert from commercial to residential use, allowing for a maximum of six dwelling units per acre, wasn’t valid.
So the referendum approval process the town used for more than 25 years, along with the November 2012 referendum approval for those two properties, was null and void until Scott signed the bill.
Town staff, lobbyist Dave Ramba, Senator Nancy Detert, and Representative Jim Boyd spent more than eight months working to get the bill through the House and Senate floors, ensuring it made its way to Scott’s desk free of any modifications.
“The Town Commission should once again be commended for its commitment to protecting the town's Charter and the referendum requirement that has been one of the backbones of this community since the 1980s,” wrote Mooney-Portales to the commission in a June 20 email.
Vice Mayor Jack Duncan called the effort by everyone involved “a job well done” and made a point to thank two town leaders in a June 20 email.
“As a citizen of Longboat Key, I feel we all owe Town Manger Dave Bullock and Mayor Jim Brown a debt of gratitude, as they were both so instrumental in garnering support and sponsorship for this critical legislation,” Duncan said.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].