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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2021 2 months ago

Town Commission to consider environmental projects, filling vacancies

April 5 marks the first regular Town Commission meeting for Penny Gold and Debra Williams.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

April 5 marks the first regular meeting for the two new Longboat Key town commissioners.

Penny Gold and Debra Williams were sworn in on March 22  and participated in a workshop  that afternoon.

Here are some of the issues Longboat Key town commissioners are set to consider at their April 5 meeting:

What kinds of environmental projects to pursue

Town staff is expected to present commissioners with a variety of environmental projects after accepting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s consent order in February.

The consent order was a result of the town’s June 2020 mainland sewage line break and spillage of millions of gallons of sewage.

The town has told the state about its desire to pursue an in-kind environmental project, which is subject to FDEP approval. Such a project would need to be worth at least $281,073.

Commissioners and the public are due to learn what specifically an in-kind project entails.

What happens to the District 5 Town Commission seat?

The Longboat Key Town Commission’s District 5 seat sits vacant with the March 22 resignation of Ed Zunz.

Anyone who lives in District 5, which goes from Tarawitt Drive to the northern tip of the island, has until 4 p.m. Friday, April 5 to notify the town of their intention to fill the vacancy by appointment from the Town Commission.

The commission is expected to appoint a District 5 candidate during its April 19 workshop meeting, Harmer said.

While District 5 seat will sit vacant for the next few weeks, commissioners are set to decide which roles they will fulfill in the interlocal governmental agencies.

One of the key decisions will be who the Longboat Key representative is on the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. Former District 4 Commissioner Jack Daly has filled the role during the last several years.

Who will fill vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Board?

On April 5, the Town Commission is expected to determine how to fill three vacancies on the P&Z Board. Penny Gold and Debra Williams became commissioners, and Phill Younger resigned.

The town received applications from Zunz, Christopher Carman, Jeffrey Carman, Gary Ehlers, Leonard Garner, Paul Hylbert, Aaron Kleiner, Steven Miesowicz, Margaret Nuzzo, Brandie Puls and Michael Warnstedt.

Current P&Z members Gary Coffin and Jay Plager are seeking reappointment.

Sea turtle marine protections

The Town Commission is expected to hold at least one more workshop about proposed sea turtle protections before considering a formal ordinance.

The next Town Commission workshop is April 19.

The town’s ordinance has been in effect since 1987 and applies from May 1 through Oct. 31.

The marine protection proposals include window tinting for beachfront properties, regulating sources of artificial light, prohibiting beach furniture within 5 feet of marked turtle nests, allowing the use of permitted motorized vehicles to retrieve beach furniture on the beach, prohibiting temporary lights such as lanterns or tiki torches, allowing storage of recreational equipment at night, adding a recreation-use agreement to avoid having people leave beach furniture on the beach and requiring beach furniture to be stacked.

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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