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Town's density requirement in jeopardy

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  • | 4:00 a.m. May 4, 2011
  • Longboat Key
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A bill being reviewed by the Legislature during the final days of its legislative session could erase a density requirement that’s been in effect on Longboat Key since 1985.

Last week, Town Manager Bruce St. Denis was made aware that a House of Representatives bill being reviewed this week includes an amendment that would prohibit a referenda process regarding density.

The house bill amendment states that: “An initiative or referendum process in regard to any development order or in regard to any local comprehensive plan amendment or map amendment is prohibited.”

The town of Longboat Key has a town charter provision, which was adopted in 1985, stating that density above the 1984 Comprehensive Plan cannot be increased without a vote of the electorate. The house bill amendment would prohibit a referenda process regarding density. 

Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown sent an email to elected officials Friday, April 29, urging the Legislature not to approve the bill.

“Since the process to raise density was lawfully placed within the Longboat Key Charter 36 years ago (and has been acted upon by the voters many times), this change would either, A.) Prohibit the town from holding a referendum to raise the density limitations; or B.) Void the charter provision that has been in place and worked for the town for 36 years,” Brown wrote in his email. “Either alternative is not attractive. It is by virtue of local control that the town of Longboat Key was able to create the environment that reflects the wishes of its citizens and property owners. Please do not remove a tool that has worked for Longboat Key for almost four decades.”

Brown urged that the amendment language be stricken from the bill.

“I respectfully request that you do not allow decisions to be made in Tallahassee that will change the character of our community after the decision has been made locally,” Brown wrote.

Florida House of Representatives District 69 Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, responded to Brown’s request Friday, informing him that if it’s too late to get the language stricken, there may be a way to keep Longboat Key’s current density referenda intact.

“If it goes through, we may be able to file a glitch bill to carve out situations like (those that exist on) Longboat Key,” Pilon wrote.

The Senate will review the bill this week.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].


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