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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 10 years ago

My View: There's nothing 'unearned' about our property rights

by: Bob White

In the June 25 editorial, “Negotiate What?” The Longboat Observer contends that Islandside residents who oppose the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s development plan are asking for a “free, unearned benefit” and that the club’s property rights are being thwarted by the Islandside Property Owners Coalition. The editorial implied also that there is no reason for the club to negotiate.

We acknowledge that the club has certain property rights, but those “rights” don’t include the right to change the governing document — the outline development plan (ODP) — for the Islandside development unilaterally and without complying with the covenants and restrictions or to create new development sites.

Exactly what “free, unearned benefit” is being bestowed on the residents? The original plan for development of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) was that the golf course and tennis courts were recreational amenities to the Islandside development. These were amenities that were reflected in the purchase prices paid for Islandside properties.

Islandside property owners have the right to expect that these amenities will continue to be maintained according to the original plan of development, without imposing the additional requirement that they be subjected to a massive and inappropriate expansion of the commercial operations of the Key Club.

The editorial also implies that the opposition from the Islandside community seeks to interfere with the property rights of the club. We do not. The club has no right to construct any commercial, tourist or residential facilities on the proposed parcels without a dramatic, and, in our view, impermissible modification to the historic ODP.

Lacking agreement of the other property owners in the Islandside planned development, the club has the choice of attempting to go forward with the present plan with the strong opposition of the Islandside community or reducing the scale and intensity of the plan to a level that the community will support.

If the proposed expansion was truly deemed beneficial by our residents, it would not be opposed by nearly all of the residential homeowners associations within the planned development and the vast majority of the owners they represent.

A poll taken by one of the associations resulted in all but three owners opposing the project as proposed. The survey also indicated that residents would support a less intense plan that was more in harmony with the character of the community and the original plan of development of the Islandside PUD.

Bob White is chairman of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition.

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