- January 24, 2022
Town Manager Dave Bullock recommended the town purchase a beach-front property at 6541 Gulfside Road, in order to tear down a seawall and create a future public beach access, for $1.17 million.
Commissioner Jack Duncan recommended the town purchase the property for $1.
The Longboat Key Town Commission didn’t approve either recommendation at its Monday night meeting, and the town won’t pursue the property at a foreclosure auction this week.
Duncan made his facetious $1 motion to thwart any attempt at buying the property, and the majority of the commission agreed that the town shouldn’t purchase the parcel.
Bullock recommended the town put a bid on the property for $1.17 million, which is the average of two appraisals performed for the property. Bullock needed five commissioners — a super majority vote — to approve the purchase.
The home, which is owned by Roseann Morrison, has an estimated mortgage foreclosure claim from JPMorgan Chase Bank valued at $2,407,256.25. The property will be sold at auction 11 a.m. Wednesday, on the Manatee County public auction website. The half-acre property contains a 2,214-square-foot home that last sold for $1 million in September 2001. The total assessed value of the property in 2013 was $909,301, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s website.
The house sits on the beach and is just south of the former Yonkers property, which was recently transformed into a Gulf-front estate called Ohana at 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive that’s on the market for $22 million. The town missed an opportunity to purchase that property years ago to knock down its seawall.
The Ohana property seawall has prevented sand from staying on the shoreline for years.
Commissioner Phill Younger said the property in question was not causing a problem and that the loss of sand in the area can be attributed to the larger seawall at the Ohana estate.
“Is there any downward impact on the sand?” Younger said. “No, it’s being caused by the other seawall.”
The money to be used for the purchase would have come from the beach fund, which contains more than $5 million.
But Duncan said it didn’t matter.
“My gut feeling is this isn’t a good expense of taxpayer dollars,” Duncan. “The money might be in the beach fund, but it’s still taxpayer dollars.”
Other commissioners and some people from the audience also recommended the town not bid on the property.
“This is a total waste of money for the town,” said former mayor George Spoll.
Only Vice Mayor David Brenner voted for the potential purchase.
“Our beach engineer has recommended we buy this and it could save money over time from the amount of sand we would have to place there,” Brenner said.
Bullock said his recommendation wasn’t an easy one, but he stuck by it.
“I haven’t changed my belief the property is better in public ownership than private ownership,” Bullock said, noting that there are only a few properties that have structures protruding on the coastline where sand should exist to protect the barrier island. “As long as there is a town, we will be in the beach-building business. We would be able to deal with this property better under our ownership than have no control over it like we do now.”
A potential deal breaker for commissioners, though, revolved around an easement from Gulfside Road to the beach house that wouldn’t allow the town to use machinery to access the beach for future beach projects.
Although the town could have turned the property into a future public beach access, it wouldn’t be able to use it for beach maintenance purposes.
“If we can’t have the access to the road we want, that’s a problem,” said Mayor Jim Brown.
Duncan made a motion to move forward with attempting to purchase the property for an auction bid price of $1. Then, every commissioner but Brenner voted against the purchase.
Despite the outcome, commissioners praised Bullock for bringing the land purchase option before them.
“This had merit to bring it forward and we should commend the town manager for that,” Younger said. “We lost an opportunity years ago to purchase the property that causes the real problem here.”
Groins receive state permit
The Department of Environmental Protection issued a joint coastal permit Friday afternoon for two permeable adjustable groins to be placed in front of the Longbeach and 360 North condominiums to hold sand in that area.
“Now all attention is on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit,” wrote Town Manager Dave Bullock in a Jan. 31 email to commissioners.
It could take six months for the town to receive a federal permit for the groins. The town could then bid a sand and groin project later this summer.
In the meantime, Bullock and town staff are working with the Longbeach and 360 North condominium owners who are concerned that the groins won’t be built soon enough.
“Further erosion could seal the fate of some of our buildings before these groins are built,” Longbeach President Bob Appel told commissioners at Monday night’s commission meeting.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]