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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2010 10 years ago

Redgrave steps down from P&Z

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

John Redgrave resigned from the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board Thursday, March 4, after Commissioner Gene Jaleski questioned whether Redgrave is a Longboat Key resident.

Jaleski, who says he was prompted by a Key resident to look into the matter, called the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office last week to inquire whether Redgrave should be listed as a registered voter on the island.

Last March, The Longboat Observer reported that Redgrave owned a condominium at The Glenridge on Palmer Ranch retirement community when the Town Commission, in a 5-2 vote, appointed him to the seat.
Redgrave, a former Longboat Key commissioner and mayor, told The Longboat Observer last year that, although he lived in Sarasota, he rented a room at his former Players Club condominium from his son, Martyn, to whom he transferred ownership in October 2004 for $170,000.

Town Clerk Trish Granger confirmed last year that Redgrave is a registered voter on Longboat Key and part-time resident of the Key, which made him eligible for the position.

But Jaleski’s inquiry led to an elections office investigation that confirmed Redgrave has a homestead exemption in place at his Glenridge condominium, which means his legal address resides in Sarasota, along with his voting rights.

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent sent a letter to Redgrave last week informing him that his name would be removed from the Florida Voter Registration System unless the matter was corrected.

Redgrave and Town Clerk Trish Granger said they were unaware of the requirement.

“When I first took the job, I didn’t realize my vote must be cast in the community where my exemption applied,” Redgrave said. “I resigned immediately when I was notified by the town attorney of the issue at hand.”

Country Club Shores resident and former District 1 Town Commission candidate Lee Pokoik has expressed displeasure with Redgrave’s most recent stint as a planning board member for months.

Said Pokoik: “The town attorney perpetrated voter fraud by allowing this to happen. The commissioners all knew Redgrave didn’t live on this island. The whole thing stinks, and I think the town attorney should resign.”

Persson said Redgrave is a friend of 15 years and that he has performed legal work for Redgrave unrelated to Longboat Key. Persson also said his law firm has sent paperwork to Redgrave’s Glenridge home in the past.

But Persson denied Pokoik’s accusations.

“First of all, most of my clients, frankly, have multiple residences,” Persson said. “And I’m not the town’s police chief, manager or code-enforcement officer.”

Persson said that if someone had challenged Redgrave’s seat at a planning board hearing, he would have recused himself from the conflict.

“I respond to issues raised at commission meetings and board meetings,” Persson said. “If this would have occurred in a meeting, I would announce that I had a conflict and brought in special counsel because my firm does business with Mr. Redgrave.”

Redgrave also denied Pokoik’s claims.

“I pick up mail on the Key daily and have played tennis and voted on the island for years,” Redgrave said. “I enjoyed the year I spent on the planning board and would like to think my background and 15 years of service to the island as a volunteer helped.”

Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White, however, believes the vote the planning board made last year to forward the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project to the Town Commission should now be questioned.

The planning board voted 4-3 in December to approve Redgrave’s motion, which moved the application forward for the Town Commission’s review in January.

Wrote White in a statement: “The news that John Redgrave is not a resident of the Key and therefore not eligible to serve on the planning board puts a cloud over the entire process and is disturbing and problematic. It casts a cloud over the deliberations and the decision of the board on an issue of critical importance and potential impact to the community.”

Persson, however, said the majority of the planning board voiced its support for the club’s application with certain variations. 

“The only close vote was Mr. Redgrave’s motion to forward the application to the Town Commission without resolving five or so pending conditions,” Persson said. “Mr. Wild, who was absent because of a doctor’s appointment, also voiced his support of the motion at the following board meeting.”

Persson said the commission has the final say on the application and whether the vote should be questioned.

Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann and Commissioner Peter O’Connor have made a request for a special meeting to be held after the 2 p.m. Thursday, March 25 regular workshop to fill the planning board vacancy.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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