- February 8, 2017
Two paid political advertising fliers mailed by Jensen Beach-based PAC Leadership for Florida’s Future are lobbying for passage of the Longboat density referendum by focusing on yes or no outcomes.
The con mailer presents a bleak outlook if the Aug. 30 referendum fails.
“Saying no brings low-rent commercial development to Longboat Key,” reads one mailer. “Don’t let another strip mall, pawn shop or worse come to our community by saying no.”
The mailer is littered with small photos of a “pawn” sign, a “tattoos” sign behind barred windows and a black-and-white nondescript storefront.
The pro mailer features soaring birds such as pelicans, brilliant (presumably) Florida sunsets and pristine beaches.
“Let’s control the type of growth we have on Longboat by saying yes,” reads the mailer with a check mark next to a ballot box next to the word yes. “Let’s keep our town in control of its own destiny.”
The Town Commission approved a request from Sarasota-based developer Floridays to ask voters to create density on 2.6 acres of north-end land. If the referendum passes, Floridays will likely apply for 105 additional units from a pool of 250 tourism units that voters approved in 2008 to build a 120-unit hotel.
Some residents have protested plans for a new hotel skirting the Longbeach Village. Commissioners approved the project request for a referendum citing the need to revitalize properties such as a long-vacant gas station and a bank building.
Floridays project manager James Brearley did not return several calls for comment about the mailers.
Even if voters approve the referendum, the project is not a done deal. Developers will have to file for a rezone and comprehensive plan amendment to change the property’s future land use in September if the referendum passes, said Alaina Ray, Longboat Key director of Planning, Zoning and Building.
Craig Walters, chairman of the Keep Longboat Special group lobbying against the hotel, said it’s unfortunate developers chose to advance Floridays’ application process with shameful innuendos from a PAC.
“It’s created a really awkward situation for our commissioners,” Walters said. “They did not deserve that.”