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Commission gives referendum first stamp of approval

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  • | 11:00 p.m. December 16, 2014
  • Longboat Key
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Voters could decide the future use of the Longboat Key Club’s Islandside property in a May 2015 mail-only vote.

The Longboat Key Town Commission moved forward with an ordinance that could place a referendum question before voters by mail in a special election to determine whether tourism use will be allowed on the property.

Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC) President Bob White urged the commission at the Dec. 10 special meeting to hold any vote by mail because Key Club owner Ocean Properties Ltd. is seeking to hold the special election in May, after peak season.

“It would give everyone an opportunity to weigh in on what their feelings are regarding the referendum and would not leave people feeling like this referendum was being held on the off-season and they really didn’t have a chance to weigh in,” White said.

To hold an all-mail election, the town needs authorization from the Sarasota and Manatee county supervisor of elections offices and approval from Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

In all-mail elections, ballots are sent 20 days before the election, and voters have until 7 p.m. on election day to return them. Attorney John Patterson, who represents Ocean Properties, said his client will pay for any costs associated with the special election.

According to Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray, approval of the referendum would convert no more than 300 allowable units from residential to tourism use.

The vote is required as the result of 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Lee Haworth’s 2012 ruling in favor of IPOC in its lawsuit against the town. IPOC challenged code changes the commission approved to clarify a past $400 million proposed Key Club project. That ruling required the town to hold a referendum before allowing any use other than residential within three zoning districts, including the one in which the Islandside property is located.

The commission will vote on the ordinance on second reading and public hearing at its Jan. 5 regular meeting.

Ocean Properties will file an application after the special election if voters approve tourism use for the property.



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