- August 3, 2016
There will be no North End Hotel and Beach Club on Longboat Key.
As polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Longboat Key, a contentious development issue reached a resounding resolution.
Voters on both sides of the island came together to reject the proposed hotel by almost the exact same proportion.
Results reported by Michael Bennett, supervisor of elections for Manatee County, showed 906 voting against the hotel, or 78% of the 1,166 votes cast, compared with 260 in favor, nearly 22%, for it.
Results reported by Kathy Dent, supervisor of elections for Sarasota County, showed 1,572 voters (78%) against the hotel and 435, about 22%, in favor.
Taken together, by an unofficial tally of 2,478 to 695, Longboat Key voters rejected the density increase needed for the hotel.
Out of 3,173 votes casts, 78% percent rejected the hotel proposed for 2.6 acres a quarter-mile from the northern gateway to Longboat Key.
Craig Walters, chairman of the Keep Longboat Special group lobbying against the hotel, said he hopes proper use can be found for the properties.
“It is my hope … the voters’ collective statement is seen in the positive light of a desire to preserve and protect the unique attributes of our island,” Walters said in an email. “It is also my hope a suitable use will be found, and soon, for the properties in question, and that greater consideration will be given to the interests of residents concerning future land use issues.”
Referendum voters checked “yes” or “no” on a densely worded one-sentence question.
The question: May the Town allow contiguous properties at 6990, 6960, 6920, 6916 and 6910 Gulf of Mexico Drive and 6931, 6927 and 6921 Palm Drive, now zoned C-2, C-3 or O-1 districts with no density, to increase density to T-6 tourism use, which allows a maximum of six units per acres and thereby becomes eligible to apply for tourism pool units?
Passing the referendum would have allowed Floridays, Sarasota-based developers, to apply for 105 additional units from a pool of 250 tourism units Longboat voters approved in 2008. Floridays wanted to build a 120-unit, four-story hotel.
Longboat Key resident Gene Jaleski, “as a citizen and property stakeholder,” campaigned on polling day against the referendum on the sidewalk leading to Town Hall.
“Vote NO Hotel,” read Jaleski’s campaign flyers. “No more tourist traffic.”
“It’s a Longboat issue and that clearly makes a difference,” said Dick Robbins, elections clerk for Precinct 201.
No campaign signs were posted in favor of voting yes on the Longboat Key referendum at either Precinct 309 in Manatee County or Precinct 201 in Sarasota County.
Dick Robbins, elections clerk for Precinct 201, said the Longboat Key referendum drove voter interest on the island.
“It’s a Longboat issue and that clearly makes a difference,” Robbins said.
By mid-morning, a steady stream of voters had made their wishes known at Town Hall during a gorgeous sunny day with temps already pushing the high 80s.
There was 54% voter turnout in Manatee County and 48% in Sarasota County.
“This is better than average,” Robbins said of the voting turnout. “It’s not fantastic, but it’s good.”
A glitch with a voting machine did not slow election results, Robbins said.
The referendum was required to create density on the land skirting Longbeach Village Floridays sought to develop. Some residents protested after commissioners approved Floridays’ request for a referendum while citing the need to revitalize properties such as a long-vacant gas station and a bank building.