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Bay Isles traffic agreement approved, pickleball plans move forward

The proposed pickleball court plans will visit the Longboat Key Town Commission again at its Jan. 9 meeting.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 6, 2022
Traffic circulates near the Bay Isles north entrance.
Traffic circulates near the Bay Isles north entrance.
Photo by Eric Garwood
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Law enforcement now has the jurisdiction to make traffic stops, tow vehicles and work to improve pedestrian safety in the private neighborhoods behind the Bay Isles gates. 

An agreement between the largest residential development on the island and the town was approved by Town Commissioners without discussion at their  Dec. 5 regular meeting. 

In April 2022, the town was approached by Bay Isles in hopes of exploring an agreement with the Homeowners’ Association for non-criminal traffic enforcement on their private roads. 

Traffic slows for a speed hump in Bay Isles.
Photo by Eric Garwood

As a private gated community, the town does not  provide that service to the neighborhood. To do so, under Florida statute, a formal agreement approved by both the HOA board and the town must be executed. 

Over the past six months, town staff has met with representatives of the Bay Isles Housing Opportunity Commission Board to come to an agreement that remains consistent with state requirements. 

On Nov. 14, the board approved the agreement before it came to the commissioners for review and approval Monday. 

Some residents say speeding on Harbourside Drive has been an issue for years where part of the road is four lanes and the other part is a winding two-lane stretch. In 2011, a safety committee was formed by the association to look at the issue. In 2019, speed humps were installed by the homeowners group.

The agreement recognizes the town’s current service level, which includes periodic law enforcement patrols through the gated community. Under the agreement, the town’s police officers are able to take traffic enforcement action on the private roads while patrolling the area. 

Initially, the term for the agreement is five years. If necessary, it can be terminated without cause with 90-day notice from either the town or the neighborhood. At the end of the five-year period, unless otherwise noted, the agreement will be automatically renewed. 

An additional provision of the agreement includes the HOA being able to schedule specific traffic enforcement. The HOA would be responsible for compensating the town for time and work of the Key’s police officers. 

Pickleball first reading

Commissioners took their first step in the discussion surrounding four proposed pickleball courts at the Longboat Key Club. The issue was unanimously approved and moved forward for commission discussion by the town’s Planning and Zoning Board Nov. 15.

The plans were again approved unanimously by the commission on first reading and public hearing. Second reading and an additional opportunity for residents to speak on the matter will occur at the commission’s Jan. 9, 2023 regular meeting. 

The pickleball courts, proposed for 3000 Harbourside Drive, will be built south of the original proposed site, replacing existing parking. which moves them farther from Winding Oaks, neighbors from which banded together last spring to object to the plans, citing noise and nighttime lighting concerns.

The original site was planned adjacent to the Tennis Garden’s courts in an area where trees now stand between the golf course and the tennis facility. The courts were proposed to be no closer than 328 feet from the nearest Winding Oaks home, which is farther away than existing courts are from residential property alongside the Moorings.

In order to address concerns with noise associated with pickleball, the club opted to conduct a sound study. The study conducted by Keane Acoustics showed that even without sound-deadening materials planned for the courts, noise from the courts would not exceed decibel levels already expected with surrounding ambient noise such as traffic.

Additional elements of the plan include: 

  • 51 trees would be preserved.
  • 40 trees would be relocated.
  • 66 trees would be removed.
  • A landscaped buffer is planned to the west of the courts for sound and visual screening from Harbourside Drive. 
  • 16 lights, four per court, will be placed. They will be 20 feet tall, directed downward onto the court and turned off no later than 9 p.m. nightly in compliance with town code. 
  • The club's plans include 116 parking slots, though the town requires 94.

Planning and Zoning Board members raised concerns along with the public about preservation of trees on the property, which led to a condition being added by town staff to ensure that more trees would be replaced or preserved.

Commissioners commended the effort made by the club to address the concerns of neighbors  whether about sound disturbance or the removal and replacement of trees on the property. 

“I think this is a good example of how a government should work,” commissioner Penny Gold said.

“This is a great example of how a community should address these issues,” Mayor Ken Schneier said in agreement with Gold. 


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