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Longboat homeowners oppose Jewfish Key de-annexation

North-end residents cite environmental and noise concerns as reasons to prevent Jewfish Key from joining unincorporated Manatee County.

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Many north-end residents have made their opinions clear: It’s not in Longboat Key’s best interest to say goodbye to Jewfish Key. 

Several resident associations on Longboat Key’s north end submitted petitions to the town opposing Jewfish Key's de-annexation from the town of Longboat Key. The issue will go before the Longboat Key Town Commission on June 3 when commissioners will vote on whether Jewfish Key should become a part of unincorporated Manatee County. 

The Jewfish Key Preservation Association, Inc. submitted the original petition for de-annexation on Jan. 16. The association is the homeowners association that represents eight properties and 38 acres of land. 

According to the association’s letter to the town, members of the association voted on Dec. 19, 2023, to move forward with the petition. Over 15% of the qualified voters on the island voted in favor of the petition, according to the letter. 

In a previous interview with the Observer, Jewfish Key homeowner Steve Ellis said that some of the reasons for the de-annexation request were because of the rental restrictions, and to evaluate the services that Jewfish Key receives from the town. 

Procedures for de-annexation, or contraction, are outlined in Florida Statutes Chapter 171 Section 51

But more recently, three homeowners associations — Longbeach Village, Land’s End and Bayou Hammock — sent petitions with collected signatures to the town in opposition to the de-annexation. 

Land’s End, located on the northernmost portion of Longboat Key, collected 18 signatures from its homeowners. That’s all but two owners — who were out of town, according to resident Jim Haft. 

“We are, along with some of the people in the Village, the closest to Jewfish Key,” Haft said. “So we’ll be getting the brunt of it. But really all the Village is affected.”

The No. 1 reason for Land’s End’s opposition to the de-annexation is that, if successful, homeowners on Jewfish Key would no longer be subject to Longboat Key’s short-term rental restrictions. 

The town of Longboat Key has a 30-day minimum rental requirement, except for about 30 properties that are zoned as tourism. 

If Jewfish Key is no longer a part of Longboat Key and becomes a part of unincorporated Manatee County, Haft said many north-end residents fear that Jewfish Key will become an island of frequent short-term rentals and parties. 

“They could jam like 30 people in these houses for giant spring break parties or weddings,” Haft said.

Haft also said that north-end residents have had issues in the past with noise at Jewfish Key, and are worried this would exacerbate the issues. 

Another reason Haft pointed out is that Jewfish Key would be under Manatee County’s zoning requirements if not a part of Longboat Key. 

Some residents fear that there is another agenda, Haft said. If Jewfish Key homeowners had a majority vote, the island could be rezoned however they want, according to Haft. 

There are also environmental concerns, Haft said. 

According to Haft, there are 12 acres of protected land on Jewfish Key, which are designated open space and protected by the Jewfish Key Preservation Society. 

Haft said residents are worried that if the Jewfish Key homeowners reached a majority vote, that open space could disappear. 

Jewfish Key is also the only part of Longboat Key that still uses septic tanks, Haft said. 

If there were more short-term rentals, Haft said there’s a concern that the septic tanks would become overwhelmed with increased use, potentially having negative repercussions on the environment. 

“All these things together, I think, would have a negative impact on the quality of life of everyone in the Village,” Haft said.

Haft has been putting together a committee of concerned Village residents regarding the de-annexation of Jewfish Key. From all the voices he’s heard, he said it’s been the same response. 

“I think there’s pretty much unanimous opposition to this idea,” Haft said.

Along with Land’s End, the Longbeach Village homeowners association also submitted a petition to the town, signed by eight homeowners. 

Bayou Hammock also submitted a statement to the town that said the association’s property owners are unanimously opposed to the de-annexation of Jewfish Key. 

“These changes would have a very detrimental impact on the quality of life and commensurate value of all Town of Longboat Key north end properties,” the statement said.

What’s ahead

After the town received the petition, staff had six months to perform a feasibility study of the request and then move forward with the contraction ordinance, or reject the petition. 

Town staff have been working on the feasibility study, which will go before the Town Commission on June 3. 

At that meeting, the commission will vote on an ordinance either approving or rejecting the petition for de-annexation. 

All of the materials relating to the matter — including the petitions — will be included in the commissioner’s agenda packets for review along with the feasibility study, according to Town Attorney Maggie Mooney. 

Residents who wish to attend the meeting on June 3 will have the opportunity to voice their opinions for three minutes at the podium.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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