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Events at Longboat's town center to require parking considerations

Event organizers will be required to apply for a special event permit, which will include a transportation management component.

Commissioners forwarded the proposed Town Center site development plan with 81 parking spaces to second reading.
Commissioners forwarded the proposed Town Center site development plan with 81 parking spaces to second reading.
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The approval of changes to the Town Center Green property’s allowable uses as well as a site development plan order are paving the way for the town of Longboat Key to continue moving forward with plans for the property. 

Town commissioners unanimously passed both the site development plan and an ordinance to change allowable uses.

Even though the issue was passed on first reading at the Feb. 6 regular meeting, Commissioner BJ Bishop posed the question of how a stage is already being built on the site when a site development plan was only now coming before commissioners. 

“The construction of the stage is proceeding based on the open space use there in the park, which is allowed (in the new use),” Planning, Zoning and Building Director Parsons said. “The size was such that it was administratively approvable.”

Essentially, the stage construction was allowed even before the allowable uses were changed for the property at Monday’s meeting. The changes do not affect the stage construction as it still falls under structures that are allowed in the mixed use community zoning district. 

“What you’re approving today is simply a site development plan that shows the stage, the walking paths and then future pads for future development,” Planning, Zoning and Building Senior Planner Maika Arnold said. “However, those pads have not been identified for any specific uses, and you’re not approving any construction of what the pads will be in the future.”

Parking issues were top of mind for commissioners at the ordinance’s first reading and remained there during its second reading.

The final site development plan includes 81 parking spaces, some of which are already developed. That does not include spaces that would follow the construction of a library or community center on the property, for the development would have to come back to the Planning and Zoning Board and commissioners for approval. 

The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the site development plan for the new town facility at its Jan. 17 meeting, with the recommendation that commissioners look into ways to increase parking on-site. 

A study by consultant Kimley Horn and Associates estimated that 105 spaces are needed for a small event at the Town Center Green; 480 spaces would be needed for a medium event, and 1,000 spaces would be needed for a large event that has up to 2,500 people on the great lawn, such as the Fourth of July Freedom Fest. 

Bishop spoke about her personal experience with parking at a recent Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce hosted event, Art in the Park. She said that other parking had to be utilized by those that did not want to pay for VIP parking because the majority of spots right by the town center were reserved for paying customers. 

“The only parking we actually possess, the parking on our property, was limited to VIP parking, and it wasn’t full,” she said. “Perhaps we need to have some conversations with the chamber about how they are restricting parking.” 

As part of the development order, a condition is in place that event organizers have to apply for a special event permit, giving the town the opportunity to review how it plans to manage parking and traffic, Arnold said. 

The transportation management plan will be required to be included with the special event permit, but specific requirements will depend on the type and size of the event. Some of the items that may be considered by the town include: 

  • Event parking pricing 
  • Off-site parking 
  • Encouraging other modes of transportation
  • Valet locations 
  • Ride-share drop-off and pick-up locations 
  • Disabled passenger drop-off and pick-up areas



Lauren Tronstad

Lauren Tronstad is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2021. Before moving to Florida, she worked for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

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