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

Key Club, IPOC prepare strategies

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Now, it’s a waiting game.

And the question remains: Just how long does the Longboat Key Club and Resort have to wait before it can start turning dirt on its $400 million project?

Islandside Property Owners Coalition
attorney Michael Furen said he has yet to meet with his client and strategize on what the next step will be for IPOC President Bob White and his coalition, which opposes the project.

But both Furen and White suggested after the last Key Club hearing and during subsequent interviews it is only a matter a time before they file a legal challenge to the Town Commission’s 6-1 decision to approve the Islandside renovation-and-expansion project. IPOC believes the project is too massive and can’t be supported under the town’s current codes and Comprehensive Plan.

IPOC’s options
Sitting in his Icarrd Merrill office Thursday, July 1, Furen told The Longboat Observer that IPOC has two options that can be filed in the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court within 30 days of the commission’s June 30 project approval.

The first option, Furen says, is a petition for a writ of certiorari, which would be a challenge to the ordinance the commission adopted.

“The challenge would claim their decision departed from the essential requirements of the law and/or was not supported by competent substantial evidence and/or denied the parties due process given the unheard of and incredibly expedited process without lack of adequate data and materials,” Furen said.

The second remedy, Furen says, is an action pursuant to a state statute, which allows his client to challenge the ordinance approving the Islandside Outline Development Plan amendment and claim it’s inconsistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Both judicial remedies can be filed by IPOC at the same time, and both could take at least two years to be heard and for appeals to be exhausted.

The writ of certiorari, Furen notes, could take at least nine months for the court to rule on it.

And the appeals process for both remedies, Furen says, could take another year.

“The process could easily take longer than two years once appeals are factored in,” Furen said.

Key Club’s next step

On the same day Furen explained the available options that could stall the Islandside project, Key Club General Manager Michael Welly sat in his office explaining that he hopes IPOC takes a few days or a couple of weeks to contemplate what the legal challenges could do to the community.

“I hope IPOC would recognize the 6-1 vote and that the larger community of Longboat Key is behind the renovation project,” Welly said. “I hope they don’t pursue a protracted legal lawsuit. A lawsuit could delay this project for up to a year-and-a-half or more.”

New York-based club owners, Loeb Partners Realty, meanwhile, is now vigorously pursuing project financing.

“We can step up our efforts now that we can show that we have received town approval for a project of this scope,” Welly said.

But Welly said the club will not ask its architect and design staff to begin drawing construction designs to submit to the town for approval until financing is achieved.

“Knowing that a lawsuit could delay things for some time, we want those drawings to be current,” Welly said.

A best-case scenario would result in construction drawings being created for the new Islandside golf course within a couple months.

The town’s take
Town attorney David Persson declined to speculate in-depth about the legal challenges the town could face from IPOC’s legal challenges.

“Bottom line is IPOC would have to claim there is a violation of due process,” Persson said. “And when it gets to court, it’s a review of the record and competent evidence.”

Persson said it’s important to remember that the club has agreed as one of its project conditions to completely finance the town’s defense of any lawsuit brought forth.

“The club has agreed to pay any potential legal costs, which is a significant safety valve,” Persson said.
And if the club wishes not to pay for the costs or to stop paying for the costs at any time?

“Then the town decides whether to go it alone or not,” Persson said. “And if the applicant decides to stop paying for our legal fees, it probably means the applicant’s decided not to build the project.”

Project already creating interest

Longboat Key Club and Resort Public Relations Manager Katherine Songster told The Longboat Observer last week that the 6-1 approval of the Islandside project is already spurring economic development for the Key and the club.

Songster said the club has heard from potential homebuyers who were waiting to see if the project received approval before they purchased a home on the Key.

And Songster said a lot of project supporters have also expressed interest in buying one of the project’s new residential units.

“We also had people waiting to sign memberships until they knew this project was approved,” Songster said.

Phasing schedule

If the Islandside Property Owners Coalition does not stall the $400 million Islandside renovation-and-expansion project by filing a legal challenge, the next steps for the project will ensue. Below is the agreed upon phasing schedule (by both the town and the Longboat Key Club and Resort) for the project.

The golf course, golf clubhouse and wellness center are expected to be reviewed for completeness by town staff on the site-plan level 18 months from the date the ordinance, approved on second reading, is deemed effective. The club has 30 days counting down from June 30 to sign the ordinance, which makes it effective.

Proposed site plan completeness review   
Phase 1: Golf course, golf clubhouse, spa/wellness center — 18 months from effective ordinance date;    18 months after site plan approval
Phase 1A: North parcel villas —    18 months from effective ordinance date; 24 months after site plan approval
Phase 2: Hotel, meeting center/administrative offices, multi-family tower —    54 months from effective ordinance date; 18 months after site plan approval
Phase 3*: South parcel villas —    66 months from effective ordinance date; 18 months after site plan approval

* The certificates of occupancy for the south parcel villas will not be issued until the certificate of occupancy for the hotel has been issued.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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