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Longboat Key Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 4 years ago

Red-light district helps plaza shine

by: Katie Hendrick Community Editor

APRIL FOOLS — Longboat Key’s codes have confused developers for decades.

But, now, the town is learning the naked truth about just how tough it is to decipher its regulations.

A group of Longboat Key businessmen researched what they could build at Whitney Beach Plaza and learned it was classified as a “red-light district” — meaning, of course, that it can only have low-wattage, low-wavelength red lighting that doesn’t cast a shadow on the beach during turtle-nesting season.

They came across minutes of old Longboat Key Town Commission meetings, in which Village residents pleaded for a red light. If only they had specified they meant “traffic light.”

Now “strip mall” is about to take on a whole new meaning at Whitney Beach Plaza.

Construction of the new Longboat Key Red Light District will begin the first week in April.

Businessman A.M. Sterdam, whose company purchased the plaza March 22, told the Longboat Observer, he already has several businesses lined up, including:

Bare-ier Island Strip Club;

Lock and Key to Longboat, a sex-toy shop;

It’s Red Everywhere, an adult bookstore;

Senior Moments, an escort/companion service specializing in May-December pairings. (The Longboat location will be a satellite office. The company is headquartered in Sun City Center and has other locations in The Villages, Largo, Dunedin and Naples.);

Lights Out, a risqué, home-entertainment service.

Deeming Tampa “already saturated with strip clubs,” Sterdam took his search farther south. Such institutions “are noticeably absent on Longboat Key,” he said, calling the barrier island “the ideal site” for his endeavors.

Sterdam told the Longboat Observer he took extra effort to comply with town codes. He instructed his new employees at Bare-ier Island Strip Club not to flash patrons after reading it was prohibited. He didn’t know the prohibited flashing was actually a camera flash — because of its potential to disorient nesting sea turtles.

A planning staffer said the incident highlights the need for clarity in town codes and ordinances.
Still, many Longboaters want the town to give the red-light district the boot.

Christian Morals called the business plan “an abomination” and plans to gather like-minded neighbors to picket the construction site.

“My grandchildren visit me on their summer vacations and we love to eat at Mar Vista,” Morals said. “I don’t want them exposed to this when we’re driving to and from the Village!”

Town officials were baffled that Sterdam’s company got mixed messages from the code. Still, they said their hands are essentially tied.

During a pre-application conference, they told Sterdam the zoning of the RPQ-III-AFH zoned-property would require it to be “stripped” — meaning almost totally gutted, and Sterdam interpreted the word literally. Had the property been located in the nearby RSF-II-D3-CPR zone, a partial rebuild would have been possible, and the confusion could have been avoided.

It’s Red Everywhere
The Longboat Observer will partner with the new adult bookstore to offer a new “It’s Red Everywhere” photo contest seeking photos of the most scantily clad Longboaters.

The grand prize winner will receive a free date with a Senior Moments escort/companion.

See the April 1 issue of the Longboat Observer for details.


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