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Longboat Key Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 6 months ago

Longboat Key voters approve density referendum

The developer still needs further town approval before work can begin building two residential homes on Buttonwood Drive.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Buttonwood Harbour neighborhood could be getting two new homes in the near future.

Unofficial totals show Longboat Key residents voted to approve a request to establish residential density on an .86 of an acre parcel at 597 Buttonwood Drive.

Brista Homes founder and president Mark Ursini plans to build two residential homes at the site, which is zoned office-institutional. Tuesday night, he said he is grateful for the support of the voters.

“We are excited to begin designing two new homes that will complement the neighborhood,” Ursini said. “We’re also ready to begin working with the town and Buttonwood Harbour Association on a stormwater management plan that will truly help the longstanding drainage issues in the community.”

Combining the Longboat Key voters in Manatee and Sarasota counties, a total of 1,421 voters (65.1%) voted in favor of the referendum and 762 voters voted against it (34.9%).

Permission to build two homes in the neighborhood still requires further town approval, including from the Town Commission.

Longboat Key has a long history of failed referendums, which includes the proposal to put a 120-room Floridays hotel where the restaurant Whitney’s now stands.

“It was obviously a big hurdle, but in the end, I really thought it was best for everyone, so that’s why I took on the challenge,” Ursini said.

In September, Ursini started a political action committee called Better for Buttonwood, Best for Longboat Key. Ursini credited Kelly Dowd for her efforts with the PAC.

While it’s not part of the referendum, Ursini’s preliminary design also calls to build a 16,000-square-foot commercial plaza along Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“It’s really time to get to work,” Ursini said. “Now that we know it’s going to be two homes, we’ll start the process on getting those lots approved in the referendum as well start the site plan approval for the commercial center.

If Mark Ursini gets town approval to build two residential homes on Buttonwood Drive, he said they would each have an approximate value between $2 million and $2.5 million. Rendering provided by Mark Ursini.


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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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