Homeowners of Jewfish Key are asking to leave the town of Longboat Key.
The Jewfish Key Preservation Association, Inc., the homeowners association for Jewfish Key homeowners, submitted the petition to town officials on Jan. 16.
“The request, in its simplest form, is to basically leave the town,” Town Attorney Maggie Mooney said. “They're asking to extricate themselves from the municipal boundaries of the town.”
According to public records, there are 22 pieces of real property on Jewfish Key, the island located off the north end of Longboat Key. Previous reporting in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune said there were six homes as of 2019, and no owners were full-time residents.
On Dec. 19, 2023, the association voted on the resolution to submit the petition. In the letter sent to the town, it was stated that over 15% of the qualified voters on the island voted in favor of the petition.
The letter was sent by Aaron Thomas, firm principal for Najmy Thompson Attorney at Law, who is representing the Jewfish Key Preservation Association.
Michael Mincberg, president of the association, did not respond to the Observer’s requests via phone and email for comments.
Florida Statutes Chapter 171 Section 51 outlines the contraction, or de-annexation, procedures, and what the town is required to do next.
The town is required to now perform a feasibility study of the request, and evaluate the results within six months from the petition receipt. After the study is evaluated, the town is then able to move forward with the contraction ordinance, or reject the petition.
“We're going to do everything we're required to do under statute, and we're likely going to hear it before the commission's summer hiatus, which means realistically in June,” Mooney said.
Criteria for contraction, as defined by Florida Statutes Chapter 171 Section 52, states that areas that do not meet criteria for annexation may be proposed for contraction.
If the contraction were to pass, Jewfish Key would be removed from the town’s municipal boundaries and, by default, fall into unincorporated Manatee County.
Section 62 of the same chapter of Florida Statutes states that an area that is granted contraction would no longer be subject to laws, ordinances or regulations in the municipality. That also means it would not be entitled to possible privileges and benefits.
Though little legal precedent exists for similar petitions, Mooney said there has been an ongoing request in North Port, which is the closest similar case.
Wellen Park has sought de-annexation from North Port since 2020.
In October 2023, a circuit court judge ruled in favor of North Port in denying West Villagers for Responsible Government’s request to review the city’s rejection decision. A month later, the group filed an appeal, according to the Wellen Park website.