LONGBOAT OBSERVER THE
‘IT’S READ EVERYWHERE’
LONGBOAT KEY’S WEEKLY NEWSPAPER SINCE 1978
Thursday, October 28, 2004
ELECTION2004 Remember to vote Election Day Nov. 2
Beach project to begin April 1 Business owners and residents disagree over start date. BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
In a compromise meant to appease resort owners and beachfront residents, Longboat Key Town Commissioners voted to schedule an April 1 start date for an island-wide beach renourishment project. After hearing from residents, resort owners and a handful of engineering experts at a meeting Thursday, Oct. 21, commis-
sioners debated when to start the $22.6 million project. The project was originally slated for a December 2002 start date, but was delayed because of permitting obstacles. The start date was then scheduled for October and once again changed to May 1. Now set for April, with some work beginning earlier, the project will blanket 10 miles of shoreline with 1.4 million cubic yards of sand and create a 40foot wide flat section of beach along most of the island. Resort owners speaking at
Thursday’s meeting said they supported the May 1 start date, because any work on the beach would take place after the peak of the island’s six-month-long tourist season. This start date, they said, would minimize the impact of the project during the busiest time of the year. “The tourism is very important to us, and if we start the project prior to May, we are going to destroy the season,” said D.M. Williams, general manager at Casa Del Mar. “The past seasons have not been too good and this season
should be better, so we are strongly opposed to starting before May 1.” A small group of beachfront residents, particularly residents from the Islander Club Condominiums, disagreed. Supporters of moving up the start date said the Key’s beaches needed sand as soon as possible. They said the project was badly needed, especially now that about 25 % of the island’s sand was washed from the shore during the unusually active hurriTURN TO PROJECT, PAGE 5A
Town Commission approves more sand
BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
Will Harsha at last year’s Rec Center party
Boos at Bayfront Show off your scariest (or cutest) costume at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center’s Halloween Party 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31. Come to the pizza party for some trick-or-treating fuel before hitting the streets and get some goodies to prime your candy bucket. There will be games, pictures, prizes, arts and crafts and fun for all. For more info, call the Rec Center at 316-1980.
Rose Scott memorial At 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, there will be a memorial service for Rose Scott, past president and longtime member. Scott died earlier this summer. Arts Center officers who worked closely with Scott will be speaking and any friends wishing to make comments or share memories are invited to do so.
Good eatin’ The stone-crab season which opened Oct.15 is off to a good start. Linda Hicks of Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant and Marina on the north end of Longboat Key reports, “We’re getting a steady supply of average-sized crabs but, so far, it’s not a banner year.” The last banner year, Hicks says, was “presidential election year 2000. We had lots of crabs but the public was apparently more interested in the election than eating stone crabs. “ There’s no indication from the harvest that the state’s four summer hurricanes had any effect on the stone crabs. TURN TO OUR TOWN, PAGE 2A
Spooks and goblins are found on every corner as Halloween Eve approaches. These are hanging out on Poinsetta Street. Be on the lookout overhead for witches on broom sticks flying across the dark sky with howling black cats riding behind them, whiskers flying in the wind. Young trick or treaters will be out ringing doorbells, so motorists, please drive with caution.
Vol. 26, No. 15 Six sections
RS A E Y
TURN TO SAND, PAGE 5A
Commission appoints Rothenberg Former PIC president to be sworn in Nov. 8 BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
Arts & Entertainment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1C Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4E Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4D Cops Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12A Classifieds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5E Crossword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4E Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10A Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8D Store Around the Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6D Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3E
Longboat Key Commissioners agreed that a little extra storm protection was worth $1.5 million. At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners unanimous supported spreading 130,000 additional cubic yards of sand along the town’s beaches during the upcoming renourishment project. The sand was added to the project to try and compensate for severe beach erosion from three hurricanes. Commissioners agreed that the additional sand would be a vital step toward providing storm protection and enhancing recreational beach use. After a short presentation by Coastal Planning and Engineering consultants Tom Campbell and Douglas Mann, commissioners quickly voted to spread more sand on the beach. Campbell told commissioners the town should add 130,000 cubic yards of sand along the beach — at a cost of $1.3 million — because of hurricane erosion. Campbell also said the project would cost another $2 million due to the “rising cost of fuel.” The total cost of the project is now $22.6 million. “Because of those additional losses we should expand the scope of the project,” Campbell said. The commission heeded this advice, agreeing to spread an additional 100,000 cubic yards of sand along most of the island’s southern beaches and another
Less than one week after Longboat Key Town Commissioner Ken Legler resigned, Lee Rothenberg, president of the Public Interest Committee (PIC), was chosen to fill Legler’s vacancy. Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Rothenberg, who will serve as District 1 commissioner until March, when he said he plans to seek re-election and finish out
Legler’s term set to expire in March 2006. One reason Rothenberg was considered for the interim appointment was his experience as a Planning and Zoning Board member and his familiarity with town affairs. Rothenberg moved to the Key in 1992 from the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields, and has been involved with the town since. He has been a Planning and Zoning Board member for almost 10 years. In 1996, he ran for
commissioner and lost to Legler by a 6% margin of votes. “Lee understands the issues facing this town,” said Commissioner Joan Webster, who is also a former president of the Public Interest Committee. “He has attended many, many Town Commission meetings and workshops. The commission will not skip a beat in decision making, as he is up to speed on all issues currently before the commission.” Legler announced he would resign in an Oct. 11 letter to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis.
The longtime commissioner said he plans to move to a Bradenton condominium with his wife, Erlinda, where the couple will be closer to their son, Ken Legler III. At Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner John Redgrave nominated Rothenberg, and the nomination was quickly supported by the rest of the commission. Rothenberg will be sworn in at a meeting Nov. 8. He is expected to resign from the planning board and step down as PIC presTURN TO ROTHENBERG, PAGE 5A
2A THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004
Our town CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A
THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER
NEWS drapes. Or, getting married and can’t find the perfect dress? Sawyers will help you design it and make it for you. Call 383-1329 for help with your project. In the same plaza, Gary’s of Long Boat is moving. Formerly at Suite No. 1, he is now in Suite No. 4 adjacent to Café Don Giovanni. On the Key for 22 years, Gary Winters has been at Plaza 5610 for six, after 15 years at Whitney Beach Plaza. Gary provides full hair-care services for men, women and children and has a manicurist/pedicurist for acrylic nails. He is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Walk-ins are welcomed. For appointments, call 387-3349.
Ming-a-Ling models a Halloween bow.
Photos by Dora Walters
A three-tier cake with frosted tennis rackets and seashells was the centerpiece at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort employees’ surprise party for Murf Klauber. After he cut the initial piece, the cake disappeared quickly. The party was held in the Tennis Room. For story and more photos, see page 7A.
Ready for Halloween Ming-a-Ling spends a lot of her time with her owner, Marion Jackson, who works in the St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church office. Because the tiny Shih Tzu is an unofficial office greeter, she gets decked out for special occasions and holidays. Her choice for this Halloween is a bright orange bow.
Ready for the season You can always tell the season is just around the corner when Albritton’s Fruit Co., opens its store at 4016 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The opening date was Wednesday. Stocked with fresh citrus fruit, delicious jams and jellies, and more, the store can also arrange to ship a variety of items to less fortunate friends in northern climates. In other retail news on the Key: The newest shop at Plaza 5610 is Kathryn’s Custom Sewing. Located in Suite No. 3, proprietor Kathyrn Sawyers is ready to hem a skirt or create your new living room
advance, $25 at the luncheon. There will also be a silent auction. For sales locations, call 377-2699.
It’s late for Longboat Pictured with the T-shirt is Jim VanZandt of the St. Jude committee.
Blessed event soon Once again Sarasota cartoonist Chris Browne designed the T-shirts for the annual St. Jude Gourmet luncheon. The 23rd annual event, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., will be held noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13, in the parking area of Temple Beth Israel on Bay Isles Road. Twenty of the area’s top restaurants will be taking part. T-shirts are $20 and tickets for the luncheon are $20 in
As if the new carpet, low-profile aisles and expanded cosmetics section aren’t enough, CVS Pharmacy (in the location of the former Eckerd Drugs) is now making a change with its doors — they’re staying open longer. CVS will stay open until 10 p.m. every night except Saturday and Sunday, when it’s open until 6 p.m.
Dr. Letts certified Dr. Pamela Letts has completed the 2004 examination by the American Board of Family Practice and has been certified as a diplomate until Dec. 31, 2011. In October, Letts achieved the degree of Fellow of the American Academy of
Physicans. The national medical association represents 93,700 family physicians, residents and medical students. The degree was conferred to 300 family physicians at the AAFP’s 2004 Annual Scientific Assembly in Orlando. Letts’ office is at The Centre Shops, 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Read this! To kickoff the season, Longboat Library is having a welcome back coffee for its volunteers from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Monday, Nov. 8, at Seaplace Community Room. It has also changed its hours, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays. While the Selby Bookmobile will no longer be visiting, like-new books will be for sale daily. Call the Longboat Library at 383-2011 for more information. ❑
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THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER
THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004 3A
Town to review comprehensive plan BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
Over the next few months, Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board members will conduct a detailed review of the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The state-mandated review is a lengthy process that examines most of the policies and trends on the Key. The analysis, from start to finish, takes several months to complete. Changes to the comprehensive plan can affect such things as the development and conservation of land, traffic flow and density levels, and ultimately impact the physical layout of the island. Any changes recommended by the planning board must be approved by the Town Commission. “The process goes quite a distance,” board member John Kerwin said. “We’ll be very busy.” The review conducted every seven years is a very tedious and necessary procedure, added Lee Rothenberg, who resigned as a planning board member so he could fill in former Commissioner Ken Legler’s Town Commission seat. “Seven years ago, we went through every single sentence, and this was done over a period of many, many months,” Rothenberg said. “The new plan is to only work on those elements which might need new changes or
need new thought.” The first part of the review is a public input meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 4. Planning consultant Pam Truitt will lead a discussion on a number of topics, including commercial strategies, recreation space and traffic congestion on Gulf of Mexico Drive. “Part of the process is listening to citizens,” said Truitt. “Throughout the process, we will have citizen input.” Commercial revitalization will be one of the most important issues to surface during the review. In particular, board members will question whether to allow commercial property owners to convert to residential or mixed uses. For the past three years, the planning board, Town Commission, residents and commercial property owners have debated the outcome. The issue was brought to voters in a March 2003 referendum, when 55% of voters turned down the proposed zoning change. The question of how to create a viable environment for commercial property owners will dominate much of the discussion once again. After mulling over the topic, the planning board could send to voters another referendum that would allow some commercial property owners to convert their properties to residential or mixed use.
“This is a big issue,” Kerwin said. “We activities such as hiking trails or as a conhope the solutions will be there.” servation area. Several Planning and Zoning members Planning and Zoning Board members also have supported allowing mixed residential plan to mull over traffic problems on Gulf of and commercial zoning at some of the Mexico Drive. island’s commercial Possible congestion properties. management plans They argue that would involve the city HIGHLIGHTS mixed-use zoning of Sarasota and •Over the next few months, would bolster strugBradenton Beach. the Planning and Zoning gling businesses by “I don’t necessarily board will review Longboat allowing commercial think the problem is Key’s Comprehensive Plan, a property owners to here on Longboat,” document that establishes maximize the value of Kerwin said. “Traffic is many of the town’s policies. their properties. The held up in Bradenton • A public hearing will be held mixed-use plan would and St. Armands. from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, also help reduce the Unfortunately the Nov. 4, at Town Hall Key’s excessive supply cause is at St. Armands Commission Chambers, 501 of commercial properand Bradenton. Bay Isles Road. ty, supporters say. “In Bradenton, the • Major issues to be discussed Land conservation is thing that slows it down during the review include: another topic planning is the right-turn lane commercial strategies, recreboard members will going on the bridge is ation space and GMD congesdiscuss during the too short,” he added. tion management. review, board member “People turning right John Kerwin said. onto Cortez Bridge get “We will talk about stuck at the signal before the possibility of buying green space,” the bridge. The turn lane should be considerKerwin said. “We could pick up land so the ably longer and that’s not going to be easy.” town owns the land.” The comprehensive plan review, from Open space owned by the town can be set start to finish, takes several months to comaside for active recreational activities such plete. Any changes can guide policy decias playgrounds and tennis courts, passive sions which impact the future of the Key. ❑
Model student Open studios are continuously held at the Longboat Key Key Center for the Arts. At a recent session, Lu Ping Xei was the model for an oil painting group. Margy Rich, an instructor of still life in oil, at left, attended. Registration is open now for classes in watercolor, oil painting, sketching, stained glass, pottery, drawing, sculpture and yoga. Call 383-2345 for additional information.
Newsbriefs Election day voting Voters heading to the polls Nov. 2 can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at two polling places on Longboat Key. Voting will take place at Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, and Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Residents living in the Sarasota County portion of the Key must vote at Town Hall, while residents living in Manatee County must vote at the Island Chapel. Residents who may not be able to vote on Election Day can vote early up to Nov. 1. Residents in the Sarasota County portion of the Key can participate in early voting at the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Office at 101 S. Washington Boulevard in downtown Sarasota. Residents in the Manatee County portion of the Key can vote early at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office at 321 15th Street in Bradenton. Early voting is held Monday to Friday, including Monday, Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those planning to vote early should be ready for long lines. “This is the first time we have had early voting for a presidential election, and it seems like the lines grow every day,” said Nancy Bignell, spokeswoman for Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat. “We had 802 folks vote Monday and some stood in long lines,” Bignell said. “I don’t know what the advantage will be for people on Longboat Key. If they drive 40 minutes to Bradenton and have to wait, it might not be convenient.” In Sarasota County, more than 18,000 residents voted early, as of Tuesday, at the county’s three elections offices.
Saving absentee ballots Even though residents may decide not to use an absentee ballot they requested, it can save them time on Election Day. Those who requested an absentee ballot and then decided to not use it, should keep the ballot to prove to elections officials that they are not trying to vote twice, said Nancy Bignell, spokeswoman for the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office. Voters who requested an absentee ballot and decided to wait to Election Day to vote, will need to meet with a precinct clerk, who will check to make sure the voter did not already mail in the absentee ballot.
Volunteer needed Keep Sarasota County Beautiful is looking for a volunteer chapter head for the Longboat Key chapter. Duties would include coordinating projects on the Key, recruiting volunteers for beach cleanup days and riding with a police officer on Litter Free day. For more information, call Donald Fleming at 365-5443.
Agenda Public Hearing on Longboat Key Comprehensive Plan Review, 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, November 4, at Town Hall Commission Chambers, 501 Bay Isles Road. Town Officials will ask for feedback on the following issues: • Commercial Strategies • GMD Congestion Management • Water Conservation • Communications • Recreation/Open Space ❑
Chapel chairman calls for meeting Following the firing of the pastor, the chairman of the board of governors calls for a congregation vote on amendments. BY DORA WALTERS Senior Editor
Sam Kennedy, chairman of the board of governors of Longboat Island Chapel, has called a special meeting of congregation members for 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Nov 14, for the purpose of voting on amendments to Section 2, Article 9 and Article 11 of the chapel’s Articles of Incorporation. The amendments would restore the voting authority of the congregation as it existed for 40 years before the Articles of Incorporation gave the board of governors, instead of the congregation, the authority to hire and fire the chapel’s minister. At a board of governors meeting held Oct. 14, a resolution was passed 6-4 to not renew the contract of senior pastor, the Rev. Ken Gill. He had been at chapel for five years and his contract renewal date was Dec. 31. Before voting the board was presented 257 cards signed by members and 70 non-members in support of retaining Gill. To pass the amendments, two thirds of the members attending the special meeting Nov. 14 must vote in favor. If the amendments are approved, the next step is to register the changes in Tallahassee. There is no waiting period following registration; the changes are effective immediately. The congregation can then take any action it chooses, to re-hire Gill or seek another pastor. Since the Oct.14, meeting, the six board members who voted to release Gill have mailed a letter to church members explaining their action. It states the six members believe the resolution “puts the future well-being of the church first and foremost.” Declaring they have no personal grudge against Gill, they do express concerns about his spiritual leadership and his rallying of some members of the congregation around him instead of working to unify the church. The letter states a congregation survey in July shows split support: 200 members supported him, but 200 didn’t. The letter concludes with, “We do not believe that Ken is the right person to lead the church over the next decade.” The letter is signed by Rosalyn Britton, Jackie Dixon, Dick Evans, Wayne Meyer, Richard Palmer and Tom Steiner. ❑
4A THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004
THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER
LONGBOAT OBSERVER Town Commissioners give THE
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Makepeace groin a try BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
A Makepeace groin in front of the Islander Club Condominiums came closer to a reality this week. At Thursday’s Longboat Key Town Commission meeting, commissioners directed engineering consultants at Coastal Planning and Engineering to conduct more studies about the Makepeace Wood groin — a semi-permeable device used to prevent beach erosion. Not much is know about the design of the groin because few of the devices are used in Florida, and the requested study would take about two months to finish, said engineering consultant Doug Mann. Once the study is completed, commissioners will decide whether to apply for a permit to build a Makepeace groin or several Makepeace groins in front of the Islander. A single 100-foot long Makepeace groin would cost an estimated $400,000. Before commissioners decided to move forward with further studies, several Islander residents said the geotextile groins currently in front of the Islander are not working, and that it is time to experiment with a new solution. The groins, they argued, could be an effective way to slow beach erosion along a stretch of beach that loses about 25,000 to 40,000 cubic yards of sand a year. The beach in front of their condominiums angles out towards the Gulf, making it vulnerable to severe erosion. “We’ve seen the Makepeace groin work,” said Islander resident Sandra Rothmann, referring to the Makepeace groin at the Colony. “It’s been there for 30 years. If it’s not broken, why fix it. “All this technical stuff is way over my head, but it seems to me if we try the Makepeace, it will work,” she added. An engineer hired by the Islander also spoke about the effectiveness of a 240-foot long Makepeace groin in front of Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber’s Colony Resort. “You are contemplating the third replacement of the geotextile groins and the one at the Colony hasn’t been replaced once in 35 years,” said Kristina Tignor, of the Sarasota based Tignor Group.
Tignor added that the permeable Makepeace groin would not stop sand from reaching beaches south of the Islander. “Aerial studies show that the semi permeable groins help prevent the problem of starvation of sand on the south side of the groin.” Bu town engineers say the Makepeace may not work at an erosional beach, such as the one in front of the Islander. They also say the permeable device could keep sand from naturally washing toward beaches south of the Islander, which is an important chain in the buildup of those beaches. Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said the two geotextlie groins currently in place should be replaced with similar groins because of their effectiveness. “The geotextile groins don’t have the opportunity to hold sand because there is not enough sand to hold,” St. Denis said. “But if there is sand in the system, it is clear that the groin does work.” St. Denis’ recommendation for the geotextile over the Makepeace was overridden by the commission’s decision to conduct more studies of the Makepeace. The town’s engineering consultants were reluctant to move forward with the Makepeace study for two reasons. The device would be difficult to permit, engineer Tom Campbell said. In addition, he said, earlier models could not prove that the Makepeace would slow beach erosion at the beach in front of the Islander. The permitting process would take more time than the construction or installation of the Makepeace groin, Mann said. As part of the process, engineers would need to prove to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that groins are a “justifiable application at the location,” he added. Detailed models need to be created and sent to officials. Engineers also need to determine how many and what size groins are needed. If a permit is granted, construction of the device would involve more research. “There are one or two of the groins up at Anna Maria and that is all I am aware of in state of Florida,” Mann said. “There is no specific engineering guidance on how to build one.” ❑
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A cane season. Condominium owners at the Islander told commissioners that their homes were left vulnerable because of a receding beach. “We’re standing there naked, while they’re worrying about someone making a little extra money from tourism,” Islander resident Lester Auganoff said. Residents also said the project had been delayed enough. “If we had the renourishment project on schedule, we would have less problems,” Tom Campbell, an engineer with Coastal Planning and Engineering, said about the erosion-prone beach near the Islander. After hearing from both groups of residents, commissioners were at a standstill. Commissioner John Redgrave made a motion to begin the project as soon as possible, but the request was never seconded. Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said a decision to start pumping sand earlier than planned could send the wrong message to resort owners and other businesses. Changing the date would allow large dump trucks to move up and down the beach during the height of the tourism season, and could negatively impact resorts that rely on seasonal guests, he added. “I normally don’t tell you how to take action, but this may send a mixed message,” he said. “It would be detrimental to all the businesses we are trying to help.” Commissioners then voted against a motion to begin pumping the sand May 1. In a compromise measure, commissioners finally approved an April 1 date. Commissioner Hal Lenobel and Mayor Ron Johnson opposed the agreement. Johnson said the earlier start date could end up deterring many visitors who planned to vacation during the tourist season.
• Town Commissioners approve an April 1 start date for an islandwide beach renourishment project. • Because of additional sand and record-high fuel prices, the project cost rose to $22.6 million. • Cost increase will likely lead to 15% hike in debt service taxes.
In other business, • Commissioners learned of a funding shortage for the St Armands drainage project. Commissioner Jeremy Whatmough said he learned about the almost $4 million funding shortage before the meeting. “I heard they may be looking for some money from Longboat Key, and I just smiled.” He also said the project may be completed below cost if only two, instead of five, pumps are installed throughout the island. The pumps would divert storm water into Sarasota Bay in an effort to prevent roads, homes and businesses from flooding during heavy rains. • Town Manager Bruce St. Denis updated commissioners on a possible emergency water-line connection with Sarasota. A previous request for grants to fund the $4.1 million project was turned down. Part of the project would include upgrading a stretch of underground pipes. St. Denis said he would to continue to research other funding methods. Former Key Mayor Ray Metz, who was an outspoken supporter of the emergency water line connection, was in attendance at the meeting. • St. Denis also told commissioners that bids for the beach renoruishment project would be going out within two weeks. He said the town had all necessary permits. The Key is in a good position, because many other towns are just starting to apply for beach renourishment projects, St. Denis said. ❑
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A ident sometime next week. “My desire is nothing more than to do the best I can for the general welfare of the town,” Rothenberg said. “Whether on the P and Z board or town commission, that is my attitude. I’ll try my best to become a wonderful commissioner.” As a planning board member, Rothenberg has become known for his detail-orientated approach to complex issues. “Lee Rothenberg is a careful, deliberate person,” said Planning and Zoning Board member George Spoll. “He doesn’t come to snap decisions. He is very careful to look at every piece of information before he jumps into the fire. This is true to any issue, from commercial strategies to individual projects.” Rothenberg said decisions commissioners make could affect residents for years. Short- and long-term decisions have to be reviewed closely, he added. “I believe before the commission makes their decision, they should try to get all facts, discuss the pros and cons and then come to a decision,” he said.
Sand CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A 30,000 at the north end of the island. To pay for the additional sand and a 10% fuel increase, commissioners decided to dip into state grant funds originally set aside to buy down a $4 million bond debt. The move will cause a 10% to 15% increase in District A and B debt service millage rate, Finance Director Terry Sullivan said. If the new millage rate is enacted, an owner of a $300,000 home located in
THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004 5A The interim commissioner’s membership with PIC will shape the way he views certain issues. “I will no longer be there, but the things I’ve learned there are useful,” he said about the committee. “The sole purpose of PIC is to promote anything and everything that is good for Longboat Key people.” One important issue Rothenberg has advocated as PIC president and a planning board member is allowing mixed-use zoning at the island’s commercial properties. Rothenberg said he supports mixed use at the island’s two shopping centers where it is proposed. He said tourism zoning should be allowed at the centers. “The purpose is to try to replace all the lost tourism units from the Holiday Inn and others, as opposed to increasing density,” Rothenberg said. “We are not advocating increasing density. The purpose, this is a critical point, is to strengthen and preserve our restaurants and businesses. We don’t want to lose those restaurants and any of the stores.” In the past, PIC has taken a stance in favor of mixed use on the island. This important issue will surface once again as the commissioners consider the town’s upcoming comprehensive plan review. ❑ District A could expect to pay about $27 more in taxes each year. An owner of a $300,000 home in District B could expect to pay about $6 more in taxes each year. “We will try to minimize the impact of raising District A and B millage by getting FEMA reimbursement,” Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said. He told commissioners not to include the reimbursement in calculations because it could take a while for the town to receive FEMA money. “We’re still waiting for beach money from Gabrielle (which hit in 2001),” St. Denis said. ❑
6A THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004
THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER
Residential zoning on Circle proposed BY ROGER DROUIN Staff Writer
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A proposed zoning-code amendment could clear the way for townhouses or other residential units at St. Armands Circle. Several property owners have asked Sarasota planners if they could add residential units above their businesses in the St Armands Circle commercial tourist district. But before any townhouses or apartments are approved, Sarasota’s zoning codes must be changed. Two conflicting sections of the city’s zoning code have put the brakes on residential development at the Circle. “It’s not allowed now, until we fix the code,” said Mike Taylor, Sarasota deputy planning and redevelopment director. “We have noticed a conflict and will recommend that the city commission make changes. The possibility of residential zoning was there and we intend to re-establish it.” Sarasota’s property regulations established in 1974 allow mixed zoning at commercial tourist districts, such as St. Armands, throughout the city. Specifically, policies allow 13 residential units per acre above the first floor of commercial businesses at the circle, Taylor said. But a “use chart” that identifies permitted property uses, indicates that residential units are not permitted at St. Armands commercial tourist district, Taylor added. The city commission must approve any changes made to the use chart. In the meantime, Sarasota’s planning department
will not allow residential units at the Circle. While not many property owners at the Circle have tried to add residential units in past, there may now be a demand for townhouses or apartments above stores and restaurants. “No one has ever wanted to build residential out on St Armands above the stores,” Taylor said. “But it may reach the point where it is desirable to do now that we see it all over the place downtown.” Revamped city codes promote mixed use in downtown Sarasota and throughout the city. In the downtown area, residential units are allowed anywhere in a commercial building. Twelve to 200 residential units — depending on where the building is located — are allowed per acre, Taylor said. In commercial tourist districts, 12 to 25 residential units are allowed per acre. “The historical way of looking at zoning from the 1950s and ’60s, was to keep commercial and residential separate,” Talyor said. “Overlapping of different uses was considered to be bad.” Now Sarasota planners are viewing the issue differently. “We allow residential in all new commercial districts,” Taylor said. “What we are doing is encouraging people to do this through more permissive features of zone districts.” Members of St. Armands Business Improvement District “have no opinion against” allowing mixed use, said Marty Rappaport, BID president. ❑
THURSDAY OCTOBER 28, 2004 7A
THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER