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Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2013 4 years ago

Town-issued memo leads to further Colony confusion

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort has always been a tourism-zoned property, but some owners are debating how long they can stay in their units.

Town Manager Dave Bullock issued a memo dated March 25, informing Colony Beach & Tennis Resort unit owners their units are for tourism use only and that owners can only use their units for 30 days out of the year.

The only problem is residents are interpreting that memo and the town’s zoning code to mean different things.

Based on the town’s definition of a tourism use, Bullock wrote, “A tourism unit may only be occupied, whether by the owner or a guest, for less than 30 days, or one calendar month, whichever is less.

“For the same person(s) to remain using the unit, the unit would have to be vacated for a period of time each 30 days per month in order to not violate the town’s zoning code,” Bullock wrote. “Furthermore, use by owners (rather than guests) is not (proper) use of the property and, therefore, owners of tourism units must be mindful to not violate the purpose that tourism units are for ‘transient lodging purposes’ (i.e. guests) under the town code.”

The memo was meant to address questions from unit owners about how their properties can currently be used.

But, at the Longboat Key Town Commission’s Monday, April 1 regular meeting, commissioners discussed how the memo has only led to more confusion.

Colony owner and rehabilitation supporter Blake Fleetwood (see My View on page 9A) and others interpret the memo and language to read an owner can live there for 30 days, check out for a day and then move back into the unit.

With a straw poll of owners currently under way, who are voting on whether they support a teardown and rebuild of the project or a rehabilitation of the existing units, Vice Mayor David Brenner said owners must have a clear understanding of what’s allowed under the town’s code.

“A whole bunch of people have different interpretations,” Brenner said.

Further complicating matters, town attorney David Persson suggested the town needs to modify its code to create a definition for “transient lodging purposes.”

When Commissioner Phill Younger said the memo and the language weren’t perfectly clear, Bullock responded, “There are very few things perfectly clear about the Colony.”

The discussion prompted Commissioner Jack Duncan to ask Bullock to schedule a Colony workshop later this month to discuss and clarify all the issues with the Colony.

“There’s major voting going on, and there are too many misconceptions,” Duncan said. “There’s plenty to talk about, and we need to understand who’s on first.”

Although Persson said a code change would clarify the 30-day use confusion, he said it’s almost impossible for unit owners to debate whether the Colony is a hotel property.

“The reality is, this is a hotel and has always been a hotel and anything other than that is going to cause a zoning problem that would end up in court,” Persson said. “It’s been a transient lodging facility since 1973 and it’s mind boggling to think some owners want to debate something that could end up with further litigation.”

The state of the Colony
The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association delivered its second mandated quarterly update to Town Manager Dave Bullock Tuesday, April 2.

Association attorney Jeffery Warren reported the Association is actively pursuing a negotiated settlement with all Colony parties. The Association is also working with longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber to support his Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of three companies that represent collateral on a $13 million debt owed to Colony Lender LLC principals David Siegal and Randy Langley.

Colony Lender’s pursual of foreclosure on Klauber’s companies has been stayed in court, and the Association believes resolving the issues between Klauber and Colony Lender is key to the settlement.

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