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Heavy voting on Longboat Key saw voters line up outside before polling places opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Longboat Key Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017 5 years ago

Top Story — November: Longboat Key voters trump density referenda

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by: Terry O’Connor News Editor

The crescendo of a raucous presidential campaign brought out about an 85% turnout of voters Tuesday on Longboat Key.

The large turnout brought a large number of voters for two island-specific referendum issues on the ballot, as well.

Of Longboat’s 6,267 registered voters, 5,063 cast votes in the Whitney Plaza referendum and 4,966 voted in the Harbour Square referedum.

Each referendum featured a request to convert a commercially zoned property for residential use. They were both defeated by margins of 60% to 40%.

Longboat Key voting returns on Referendum 1 determined owner Ryan Snyder, 37, of Bradenton, will not be allowed to raze a portion of Whitney Beach Plaza in the 6800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive to build up to 18 homes.

 

“To be honest with you, frankly, I’m not surprised,” Snyder said. “The folks down at Colony Resort better watch out. I think they could have gotten a little preview of what’s coming their way.”

Sarasota County went against the project by a 2,077-1,335 vote.

Manatee County defeated it by a 978-673 vote.

The combined vote total was 3,055 against the project and 2,008 for it.

“At this point we don’t have a Plan B,” Snyder said. “We have 40,000 square feet of commercial space out there, and nobody wants to rent it. It’s hard to say. I have no ill will toward anybody on the island. I just think there are other issues at play here on the island.”

Voting returns on Referendum 2 determined owner Oscar Parsons, 94, will not regain the simultaneous residential and business use of 4,200 square feet of penthouse office space at Harbour Square, 4134 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“Well, what can we do now? Any ideas?” Parsons said. “I thought it would just pass in a landslide.”

The Harbour Square referendum was also soundly defeated by Manatee and Sarasota county voters on Longboat Key.

Sarasota County went against the project by a 1,999-1,314 vote.

Manatee County defeated it by a 995-658 vote. The combined vote total was 2,994 against the project and 1,972 for it.

Parsons, who has owned his 17,000-square-foot office plaza on the Sarasota County line with Manatee County since 1985, gave up the right to use the penthouse as a residence four years ago. The only real change the referendum would have allowed, he said, was for a business owner to live in the penthouse.

Despite the heavy turnout, voting went smoothly, according to the election clerks.

In Manatee County Precinct 309 at Longboat Island Chapel, a voting machine malfunctioned in the morning and had to be replaced.

An estimated 40 ballots were affected, but all will be counted, said elections clerk Beverly Root.

“We had a tabulation issue,” Root said. “They came from downtown and changed the machine. But they will be counted tonight.”

It was the only glitch reported during heavy voting that saw voters line up outside before polling places opened.

“It’s been very busy,” said Charles “Dick” Robbins, Precinct 201 election clerk stationed at Longboat Key Town Hall. “We had more than 600 votes in the first four hours. They were lined up outside the door and around the building before we opened.”

Jim Whitman, former president of the Longboat Key Republican Club, lounged outside the north polling place enjoying the gorgeous 80-degree day with a friend, Charlotta Langley.

“It’s been a huge turnout,” Whitman said. “There’s been a line for most of the day.”

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