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

P&Z approves code changes

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The town’s Planning and Zoning Board approved all seven zoning code amendments proposed by the Longboat Key Club and Resort Tuesday, April 6 — but not before receiving objections from the group that opposes the club’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project.

The zoning code amendments were proposed by club attorney John Patterson at a special board meeting at Temple Beth Israel, in an effort to clarify legal questions surrounding the club’s application. The club is proposing a five-star hotel, meeting center, two new condominium towers, villas and a revitalized Islandside golf course.

Although the club perceived the changes proposed as ambiguous or conflicting provisions to the town’s zoning code, Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC) attorney Michael Furen called them “major changes.”

“These code amendments are an effort (of the Key Club) to bulletproof and assume approval by the Town Commission of its application,” said Furen, who said the application included major policy changes.
Said IPOC President Bob White: “Where is the protection for property owners if codes are constantly subject to change by the whim of the current commission? You have no zoning code residents can rely on and that’s a problem Key-wide.”

Key resident John Mitchell urged the board to realize the lasting effects of one of the changes, which would alter the code to mean hotels and other accessory uses the club is proposing are allowed in planned-unit developments (PUDs) and are not subject to a 5% limitation on non-accessory commercial development in a PUD.

“Can any of you name a hotel, a spa, a parking lot, or a swimming pool in your hometown or anywhere in the U.S. in any city that’s not considered commercial?” Mitchell asked. “If it walks like a duck, it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. This is ridiculous to try and rename what’s definitely commercial into something that’s not commercial.”

Club supporters took to the stand, however, to defend the club’s code suggestions. “All of the town’s codes have the ability to be changed,” said Key resident Terry Gans. “If a Realtor told you the area you are buying in was built out, take those words with a mountain of salt.”

Before planning board member John Wild made the motion to approve the change that didn’t include hotels and hotel-related uses as non-accessory commercial development, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the board the 5% non-residential change was a policy change that could potentially increase the amount of non-residential use on the island.

And, although Patterson told the board the club didn’t need this code changed to move forward because it could simply ask for a departure of the town’s code, it was approved by a 6-2 vote after board member George Symanski Jr. suggested the change clarifies the code and makes it stronger.

Bradford Saivetz and Morton Siegler were the dissenting votes. (Board member Phineas Alpers was absent from the afternoon portion of the meeting.)

After the planning board approved that particular code change, it prompted Furen and approximately 30 IPOC members to leave the meeting.

Said Furen: “I have nothing further to say today. I realize this is clearly a waste of time.”

The other code amendments approved by the planning board Tuesday included:

• Mixed uses — The club proposed clarifying that mixed-uses, including residential, tourism, nonresidential and commercial uses, are allowed in a PUD.

 •  Departures — The club proposed clarifying that the Town Commission has the authority to grant or deny any requested departure in any district.

•  Transfer of density — The club proposed clarifying that the town may amend a PUD to allocate units among parcels if there is remaining density in the PUD.

• Departures for supplemental controls — The club proposes establishing controls for multi-family and tourist uses and the standards for waiving those controls in appropriate circumstances.

• Length of a building — The club proposes clarifying how the length of a building is measured. This is a clarification of where to place the angle in measuring length.

• Clarification of the term “PD” — The club proposes clarifying that a PD referenced in the zoning code refers to a Planned Unit Development, and not to a Planned Development District.

Only the 5% limitation change and building-length change votes received 6-2 votes, with Saivetz and Siegler dissenting.

The other changes were unanimous. An ordinance with all of the proposed changes moved forward to the Town Commission by a 7-1 vote, with Siegler dissenting.

Said Patterson after the hearing: “There is no legal blockade to this application now if these code changes are approved. What this does is makes it clear the town has the right to approve this project.”

The code changes will now be sent to the Town Commission for its review before being approved on first and second readings in May. If approved, hearings on the club’s $400 million project can reconvene in June.

What Happens Next

The proposed code changes approved by the Planning and Zoning Board can now move forward to the commission at its 2 p.m. Thursday, April 15 regular workshop.

The code changes could then move forward for first reading at the commission’s 7 p.m. Monday, May 3 regular meeting and officially be approved on second reading during a special meeting held Thursday, May 20 after the regular workshop.

Town attorney David Persson said that once the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside application hearing resumes, the commission must make a decision on the application on first reading by Wednesday, June 16, in order to approve the application on second reading by Wednesday, June 30.

Said Persson: “June 30 is the last time you can approve a site plan at Town Hall until Sept. 1. The commission’s window for acting on this application is very, very narrow.”

The commission has agreed to hold June 7, 9 11, 14 and 16 as potential dates for future Islandside hearings.

Key Club General Manager Michael Welly has stated he will pull the project if a vote is not made on the application by the end of June.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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