The Observer LONGBOAT
EXCLUSIVE SEAson magazine It’s official: SEASON is here and in your Observer.
BLACK TIE 1B
USF Gala Guests celebrate opening of the new campus center.
You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.
OUR TOWN PEOPLE, PLACES AND PICS
DEBUT BLACK TIE SOCIAL CALENDAR Inside SEASON magazine and online at YourObserver.com FREE
Thursday, OCTOBER 5, 2006
ruling by Larry Burke | City Editor
Grand Mariner seeks court rehearing Dream Island LLC has a new site plan for the town and continues to build despite the court’s decision to quash P & Z ruling. Like a ship’s captain trying to steer his rig through rocky bottoms, former Buccaneer Inn owner Tom Hires has run aground again with his Grand Mariner condominium project. A Manatee County Circuit Court ruling Sept. 19 surprised
Hires and his partners in Dream Island LLC, when Judge Durand J. Adams reversed a previous court order and ruled that an extension granted on a building permit application was issued
See MARINER page 4A
The Grand Mariner hopes to have a model ready for public viewing in early 2007.
+ The king of beer (steins)
For 51 weeks a year, The Observer is all about “you, your neighbors and your neighborhood.” Come Oct. 5, it’s all about The Observer — and our predominance in beer-stein holding. Yep — The Observer is the reigning champ in the annual Media Stein-Holding Contest sponsored by the Oktoberfest Suncoast. Roger Drouin, former city editor of The Longboat Observer and currently city editor of The Sarasota Observer, was the man of the strong and steady arm (and a liking for the lager) and the last man left holding the 32-ounce stein in last year’s contest. He’ll defend our title, along with a strong-armed team of Observer staffers, at the third annual contest Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Festhalle (Downs Building, Gate No. 2) at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Proceeds from Oktoberfest, running Oct. 6 through Oct. 8 and Oct 13 through Oct. 15, benefit The Great Outdoors Conservancy and the Mental Health Communities of Sarasota. Tickets may can be purchased at the door.
See OUR TOWN page 2A
A&E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9B Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4D Key Real Estate . . . . . . 4C Classifieds . . . . . . . . . . . 6D Community calendar . . 6A+ Cops Corner . . . . . . . . 2A+ Crossword . . . . . . . . . . . 5D Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6A Player of the Week . . . 10C Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . 5D Vol. 28, No. 10 Five sections www.longboatobserver.com
UNHAPPY HARVEST Larry Burke
A fish harvester in Sarasota Bay scoops up dead fish killed from the recent outbreak of red tide algae. Two harvesters have been deployed on the bayside areas of Harbourside Moorings and Country Club Shores and down into New Pass. Public Works Director Juan Florensa said that as of Sept. 30, Grubbs, the town’s fish-kill removal contractor, has trucked 165 tons of fish and marine vegetation to the county landfill. The removal cost for the town of Longboat Key has been $246,000.
FISH FRY by Jessica Luck | Staff Writer
Longboat Historical Society does it again Local organization cooks up music and dinner just like the old days. Longboat Key Historical Society is operating by the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The organization is holding its “Old Time Fish Fry” for the second year and is keeping changes to a minimum. “The fist time was a big success, which is why we tried not to change very much this year,” said Mike Doll, president of the Longboat Key Historical Society. Last year 300 guests attended the dinner, this year about 500 people are expected. The fish fry will he held 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 at Mar Vis-
ta Dockside Restaurant & Pub. “We want to keep it simple and enjoyable,” Doll said. “We want to create an event that’s not too fancy.” The chairmen for this year’s event are Jim and Phyllis McGuire, and Ed Chiles and his staff at Mar Vista will be again in charge of putting together the food for the fish fry. Even though fried fish and hush puppies will appear on the menu, don’t be fooled. “This is not your basic fish fry,” Doll said. “The food is excellent.” In addition to dinner, live
DINNER PLANS What: Longboat Key Historical Society’s “Old Time Fish Fry” When: Oct. 20 Where: Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Cost: $20 per person; children 6 and under, free Call: 387-8323 for more information Tickets are available at Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce/Historical Society building, Whitney Beach Post Office, Wagner Realty and at LongboatKeyHistory.org music will be provided, and a 50/50 raffle drawing will take place. The Historical Society’s main purpose in hosting the event is not to make a large profit but to bring people together to have a grand ol’ fishfry-of-a-time.
“We want them to see friends, and we will have a bunch of old timers again; we had 20 or so respond,” Doll said. “This is just a new event that we wanted to do not only to enjoy it but to bring awareness to the Historical Society.”
2A Our town
The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
+ SEASON arrives
OUR TOWN continued from page 1A
Wondering where to go for your favorite artist’s exhibit this fall? Or who’s throwing the hottest parties? Or when everything from “Hairspray” to Tony Bennett is coming to town? Wonder no more, for in this issue you’ll find a copy of SEASON
magazine, The Observer’s guide to the Arts & Society. And to ensure you can keep track of the 371 events listed in the 54page guide, we’ve also included a 20062007 Black Tie Social Calendar. So look in the middle of your paper to find your magazine and calendar, and don’t miss a thing this season.
The ladies tennis group from the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center came to last year’s walk in honor of Roseanne Roche, who died of pancreatic cancer last summer.
+ Walk for awareness
The second annual Sarasota Walk, which is organized by the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Foundation founded by Longboat resident Nancy Flemming, will take place Nov. 18 this year. The walk was created to help raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, which has become the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. “Our foundation is about the awareness,” Flemming said. “Everybody has similar stories that they don’t often know about pancreatic cancer until someone they know is diagnosed.” Flemming put together the annual walk after losing her husband, Harry, to pancreatic cancer three years ago. Pre-registration for the 5K walk from downtown Sarasota to Bird Key ends on Oct. 9, although walkers can still register the morning of Nov. 18 for the walk. Pre-registering ensures that each walker receives his or her correct T-shirt size. The registration fee is $20 and includes a T-shirt, purple awareness wristband and an awareness card. All proceeds will be donated to pancreatic cancer research. For more information or to register for the walk, visit www.sarasotawalk.org or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Living doll
Lita Ward, Longboat Key resident, noticed something when she was recently reorganizing her baby doll collection. She came across a doll that bore a resemblance to someone she knew: her 2-month-old granddaughter, Berkley Marie Ward. Laying them side-by-side, Ward said Berkley Ward is their “living doll.” Berkley Ward was born Aug. 9, and weighing 4 pounds, 13 ounces. She is the daughter of Lance and Carla Ward.
+ Free for all
Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital and Education Center are waiving admission fees for the month of October. The “Free for All” promotion will showcase to visitors all the improvements and changes that have been made since the last season. “We spent spring and summer cleaning up, fixing up and improving the Sanctuary,” said Jeffrey Dering, executive director. “With new boardwalks and displays, we are offering the best visitor experience in years.”
Donations are always accepted, and memberships are available in the gift shop. Members receive free admission to the Sanctuary all year long. Pelican Man’s is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Friends and family members of former Longboat Key Deputy Fire Chief Terry A. Conover are invited to attend a Celebration of Life held 1 to 3 p.m., Oct. 7 at the Longboat Key Cocktail Lounge (Tiny’s) at 6854 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
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The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
by Larry Burke | City Editor
Proposal would phase out 7 SUVs Commissioner Randy Clair is suggesting the town put a $22,000-cap on the town’s future vehicles.
Concerned about the perception of the town staff ’s use of SUVs, Longboat Key Commissioner Randy Clair has submitted guidelines to reduce the current fleet of 15 SUVs down to eight over the next few years. Clair’s proposal came after commissioners discussed the town’s use of SUVs during the commission’s Sept. 11 budget meeting. Commissioners expressed concern that the SUVs created the perception of excessive town spending.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis argued in favor of the SUVs because of his desire to be able to deploy town staffers as quickly as possible after a destructive hurricane. “We need to be able to focus on the first three days (following a storm),” St. Denis said. “We need to immediately address assessments, clean-up and inspections of homes and condos.” St. Denis said the SUVs’ ability to maneuver over and through debris would speed up recovery immediately after a storm. “If we can start on day one, before the island is cleaned up,” St. Denis said, “maybe that would allow us to save time on the other end and get people back sooner.” Clair’s proposal would apply to all town vehicles, except medium or heavy trucks,
special-use trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, motorcycles or trailers. It would give the town manager the ability to use his best judgment when considering the purchase of vehicles, based on functional, operational and economic perspectives. The price ceiling would be $22,000 per vehicle. Going forward, St. Denis said the town still would have the flexibility to purchase SUVs or other high-clearance, four-wheeldrive vehicles as replacements as long as they fell within the price range. Any vehicle that exceeds the price cap would need prior approval from the Town Commission. After reviewing Clair’s proposal, St. Denis said it would not compromise hurricane preparedness.
WHAT THE TOWN STAFF DRIVES Town Round trip Office Year/Make/Model Mileage Own/Lease home/work
Town manager 2004 GMC Yukon/XL 56,000 Leased 25 Police chief 2004 Ford Expedition 68,000 Owned 14 Police deputy chief 2006 Ford Expedition 9,670 Owned 18 Police detective captain 2005 Ford Explorer 34,232 Owned 19.6 Fire chief 2003 Crown Victoria 31,000 Owned 30 Deputy fire chief 1999 Ford Explorer 85,000 Owned 38 Fire marshal 2003 Crown Victoria 66,000 Owned 19 Public works director 2006 Ford Explorer 8,400 Owned 50 Public works project mgr. 2004 Ford Explorer 44,500 Owned 38 Public works operations mgr. 2006 Ford Explorer 8,275 Owned 32 Public works superintendent 2005 Ford Explorer 38,000 Owned 62
4WD, towing, radio/CD/casette 4WD, emergency equipped, high-power armament w/ alarm 4WD, emergency equipped, high-power armament w/ alarm 4WD, emergency equipped, high-power armament w/ alarm Police ADM package 4WD Police ADM package 4WD, towing, radio CD 4WD, towing 4WD, towing 4WD, towing Source: Town of Longboat Key
by The Observer Staff
St. Jude, car raffle tickets on sale now
by Roger Drouin | Sarasota City Editor
The silver anniversary event features the raffle of a Toyota Scion SUV.
Tickets are officially on sale for the 25th annual Longboat Key St. Jude Gourmet Luncheon and car raffle. Pricing for this year’s silver-anniversary luncheon WHERE TO BUY will be $25 in advance LUNCHEON, and $30 at the door. Only 1,200 tickets will be sold RAFFLE TICKETS to the luncheon and only 300 tickets will be sold for Longboat Key • Colony Beach & Tenthe raffle of a 2007 Toyota nis Resort, Tastebuds Scion Mini-SUV. Delicatessen, 1620 Gulf The luncheon will be held of Mexico Drive, 383from noon to 2 p.m. Satur6464 day, Nov. 11, in the parking • Longboat Key, Lido area of Temple Beth Israel, Key, St. Armands Key 567 Bay Isles Road, on Chamber of Commerce, Longboat Key. 6960 Gulf of Mexico As it has for the past 24 Drive, 383-2466 years, this year’s luncheon • The Longboat Observer, 5570 Gulf of Mexico will feature the signature Drive, 383-5509 gourmet dishes of the pre• The Market, 6810 mier restaurants from Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, St. Armands 383-7180. Circle, Sarasota, Anna Ma• Sea Stable, 3170 Gulf ria and Bradenton, along of Mexico Drive, 383with ample samplings of 2288 fine wines from the region’s • SunTrust Bank, 510 top wine distributors. Bay Isles Road, 3875600 Along with the restauSarasota rants, this year’s luncheon • Sarasota Olive Store, has secured the backing of 1419 Fourth St., 366The Stanford Group Com2008 pany, a Houston-based asset • The Sarasota Obmanagement firm. The comserver, 1517 State St., pany’s Longboat Key office 366-3468 is headed by longtime Longboat Key investment manager Chuck Vollmer, president of the Vollmer Financial Group, an affiliate of Stanford. Stanford Group Company is one of the nation’s leading corporate sponsors and donors to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The children’s hospital is the benefactor of the proceeds of the luncheon and car raffle.
As one deputy stands off to the side of John Ringling Boulevard writing a ticket on his citation pad, another deputy pulls over the driver of a van.
Speed trap nabs 40 drivers In one of their periodic crackdowns on speeders, police and sheriff’s deputies waited for motorists speeding down the Ringling Bridge. In a 90-minute period last Friday morning, the Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff ’s Office ticketed 40 drivers after they crossed the hump of the Ringling Causeway Bridge heading west. In total, police issued nearly 70 citations for violations ranging from speeding to driving without vehicle insurance. The operation was part of a countywide crackdown on speeding. The Sheriff ’s Office and Sarasota Police Department conduct these operations every few months, pulling over motorists at several traffic-heavy locales throughout the county.
“We don’t have to announce this,” said Sarasota Sgt. Jim DeNiro, who is in charge of the city’s traffic division. “We just come out and do enforcement.” From 9 to 10:30 a.m. Friday morning a dozen officers and deputies focused on drivers passing over the Ringling bridge onto St. Armands Circle. Several officers stood at the foot of the bridge with radar equipment mounted on a tripod. When a speeding motorist would pass, officers called in a desciption of the vehicle to the small fleet of patrol cars and motorcycles waiting in the causeway parking lot across from the entrance to Bird Key. DeNiro said that at least 15 joggers passing by thanked officers for stopping speeding motorists. “Drivers hate us; pedestrians love us,” he said. Most drivers issued citations were going at least 12 mph over the posted speed limit, DeNiro said. If found guilty, drivers could be fined up to $200.
INBRIEF COMMUNITY NEWS AND NOTES
+ Town makes arts donation
The Longboat Key Center for the Arts received a $15,441.18 donation from the town. The money will be used to complete the construction of the connecting paved walkways. During the 2005-2006 budget talks, some local grants were discussed as a one-time item. The funds were welcome to Arts Center Director Jennifer Glassmoyer. “We are so looking forward to wrapping up the construction on the center,” Glassmoyer said, “and with the help and generosity of the town, we’re that much closer.”
+ Special meetings end
The Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board wrapped up its special meetings for the town’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment by looking at conservation, coastal-zone management and school concurrency. A total of nine components has been discussed at the last four special meetings, and the board will present them at a transmittal public hearing at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10. Those results will then be shared with the Town Commission Nov. 29 at a joint meeting. The board also discussed the proposed visioning survey, and its role as planupcoming ners for agenda the Key. Board members Town feel the Commission results of Meeting — 7 the surp.m. Monday, vey will Oct. 9, Town provide Hall them with the necesP&Z sary pubMeeting — 9 lic input a.m. Tuesday, to view Oct. 17, Town proposed Hall changes brought before them. This input would help guide decisions to promote change, but not at the expense of Longboat’s unique character. The perception of Longboat town government being viewed as reactive instead of proactive was also discussed. “At some point, you need to run some things up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes them,” said board member Jim Brown. Member David Brenner was appointed to represent the board and speak in favor of an economic development council for the Key. numbers in the news
— number of tons of fish and marine vegetation trucked to the county landfill by Grubb’s, the town’s fishkill removal contractor, as of Sept. 30.
— number of drivers ticketed last Friday after crossing the Ringling Causeway Bridge.
— number of miles, round-trip, that town employees with town-issued vehicles drive to and from work every day.
The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
MARINER continued from page 1A Vol. 28, No. 10
You. Your Neighbors. Your Neighborhood. The Longboat Observer was founded in July 1978 by Ralph and Claire Hunter and daughter Janet in a one-room office with two typewriters. Since then, and through today, The Longboat Observer has served as the leading source of community and neighborhood news and information for Longboat Key, St. Armands Key, Lido Key, Lido Shores and Bird Key. In March 1995, the Hunters sold The Longboat Observer to the families of David and Ruth Beliles and Matt and Lisa Walsh. And they have kept up and built on the tradition of providing the most comprehensive coverage of news, people and events on Longboat and surrounding keys. Throughout the year, The Longboat Observer averages 18,000 net circulation, the highest penetration on Longboat Key of any print medium in the market. History of the Longboat: Since The Lonboat Observer’s founding, the newspaper has used a rendering of a “longboat” as one of its identifying symbols. According to historical accounts, when Juan Anasco, scout for Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, anchored off the coast of Longboat Key in 1538, Anasco and his crew used “longboats” to get through the pass from the Gulf of Mexico to Sarasota Bay.
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improperly, causing the application to expire and requiring Dream Island now to apply for a new site-plan approval. Hires and his partners, in response, have filed a motion to ask Adams to reconsider the ruling. The judge’s decision is the latest in a series of legal actions going back to 2003 that have delayed or stopped the Grand Mariner project from being built on the site of the former Bucanneer Inn restaurant and marina on Dream Island Road on north Longboat Key. Although construction remains under way on the 14-unit condominium, Adams ruled the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board did not have the jurisdiction to grant Dream Island the extension on its site plan in 2005. Instead, the court said Dream Island LLC should have requested a court-ordered stay to freeze the clock on its permit application while it was contesting one of the lawsuits filed by Longboat Key property owners Accursio Sclafani and Doreen Erickson. Schlafani and Erickson have been trying to stop Hires’ project for more than three years on the basis of legal technicalities. Specifically, the court’s latest ruling goes back to February 2005, when Sclafani and Erickson filed an appeal in the Second District Court of Appeal. At that time, knowing that its permit application could expire because of the lawsuit, Dream Island LLC requested an extension for issuance of a building permit. After debate lasting close to five hours between the town’s planning and zoning board, Dream Island LLC representatives and Sclafani, the planning board granted an amended extension, lengthening Dream Island’s deadline for permit approval to Feb. 17, 2007. But Sclafani argued before Adams the LBK Oct# 1 ¬ 2 have jurisdiction. planning board did
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On Sept. 19, Adams agreed. Longboat Key Town Attorney David Persson said that while the circuit court ruled against granting the extension, the town believed nevertheless the clock on Dream Island’s permit application should have frozen once a lawsuit was filed. Still, if the judge’s ruling is upheld, it will require Dream Island LLC to go back to step one with the town — meaning it would have to schedule a pre-application conference with the town, resubmit site plans, receive approval from the town’s planning board and Town Commission and then obtain a new building permit. Hires and his partners already have begun that process, but they said they believe Adams applied the wrong standard of law when he viewed the extension as an administrative issue and not a judicial decision. “We view this as a technicality,” Hires said. “So we are asking the judge to reexamine how he arrived at this decision. Added Dream Island partner Jake Geleerd: “It’s important to understand, that the Vested Rights Determination and the development criteria given to us have been reviewed and upheld by both Manatee County and the Second District Court in Lakeland.” In the meantime, Hires is confident the project will receive its approvals quickly. “The commission has already unanimously voted twice to renew this site plan,” he said. “Why would it not approve it again?” Assuming the town’s building department OKs the plan, it could be brought before the planning and zoning board as early as Nov. 21. Construction, meanwhile, is proceeding without a building permit. Said Hires: “We’re building the building.”
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The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
by Larry Burke | City Editor
LBK firefighters want Tampa pay rates The firefighter-paramedics union has rejected two offers from the town. Longboat Key’s firefighters and paramedics say their pay should be equivalent to that of their counterparts in Tampa, Hillsborough County and Sarasota County. But negotiators for the town haven’t been willing to meet the firefighters’ and paramedics’ demands — at least not for the past four months. Labor contract negotiations between the town and the Suncoast Professional Firefighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 2546 entered their fifth month Oct. 1. The town’s existing conract expired June 1, leaving the town’s fire/rescue employees operating under the group’s old contract. Under that contract, a Longboat Key fire lieutenant at the top of the pay scale earns about $10 an hour and $7 an hour less than his counterparts in the Tampa and Sarasota County Fire Departments, respectively (see table). Longboat Key paramedics at the top of the scale earn about $8 an hour less than paramedics in Tampa. Not only that, union leaders argue that Longboat Key’s firefighters and paramedics work an average of 56.5 hours per week compared to 48 and 44.9 hours per week in Tampa and Sarasota County, respectively.
HOW FIREFIGHTER PAY COMPARES Here are the hourly rates for employees at the top of the pay scale. Lieutenant Longboat $22.07 Tampa $32.14 Sarasota Co. $29.01 Hillsborough $29.78 HOURS WORK / WEEK Longboat Key Tampa Hillsborough Sarasota
Paramedic EMT $21.51 $17.72 $29.36 $25.44 $26.52 $23.26 $27.95 $23.11 56 48 48 44.9 Source: IAFF
‘Just about everyone has negotiated a contract since ’03, and the market has passed us.’ Bruce St. Denis Town Manager
The town’s employees work on a 21-day system, working 24-hour shifts every third day. “Basically,” said Frank Stoudt, Local 2546 District vice president and a Longboat Key firefighter, “all we are looking for is equality.”
The town had presented two proposals to the firefighters, one on June 6 and the other Aug. 29, both rejected by the bargaining unit. According to Local 2546 District Vice President Frank Stoudt, the union tried to open negotiations back in February prior to the expiration of the then current contract. Stoudt, a 27-year veteran, has been a Longboat Key firefighter for three-and-a-half years. “Our people don’t mind working the hours,” Stoudt said. “We just want to be paid for it. It’s the market. We work 576 total hours more than Sarasota. “Sarasota is hiring from 100 to 200 people over the next two
Longboat Key firefighters and union reps Frank Stoudt and Keith Tanner outside the South Fire Station. years,” Stoudt said. “If you were looking at working this many hours and not competitively compensated for them, where would you go?” Added Keith Tanner, Longboat Key firefighters’ C shift union representative: “We don’t want to work 24 shifts for free anymore. The town wants experienced paramedic firefighters. We don’t want to make this adversarial, it’s about the numbers.” Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said the town is faced with the other cities’ and counties’ higher wage scales in part because of the contract Longboat Key negotiated in 2003. “Because we went up, others have now topped us,” St. Denis said. “We set the bar back in 2003. Just about everyone has negotiated a contract since ’03, and the market has passed us.” The town’s pay policy is to be among the 75th percentile in the
area for employee salaries. In addition to higher pay, union negotiators also are seeking a pay schedule that would allow them to reach the highest pay levels in less time. It can take Longboat firefighters and paramedics 12 years compared to eight and nine years in Sarasota County and Hillsborough County. Stoudt said that the two sides hope to resume negotiations by the end of this week. Since the Aug. 29 town proposal, the union has submitted a counter offer. The next meeting will address the components of that offer. Stoudt and St. Denis said they are optimistic a new contract will be signed prior to the end of the year. Said St. Denis: “We are going to get a contract with the people we want to have here.” The town’s current fire department employees consist of 33, of which 30 are members of the local union.
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THE LONGBOAT KEY DEMOCRATIC CLUB Luncheon Meeting
tueSDAY, octoBeR 17, 2006 @12 noon [Social hour 11:30 a.m.] Longboat Key club harbourside Dining Room Speaker: Christine Jennings: Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress “A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOUSE” Join us at the Longboat Key club harbourside Dining Room Behind Avenue of the Flowers at 525 Bay isles go to the gatehouse for entrance to Longboat Key club
tuesday, october 17, 2006 Reservations $23 per person Please call Marvin or Betty Morse @383-4707 visit our by Friday, october 13th sale rack or mail check to: at The Colony for designer items Longboat Key Democratic club Longboat Key P.o. Box 8025 up to 941.383.7576 Longboat Key FL 34228
AF L@= GDGFQ AFAF? ,GGE
• Nightly Dining Specials • Innovative Menu Additions Join us on the beachfront for unparalleled Continental cuisine, one of the nation’s top wine lists, impeccable service, live nightly entertainment and our daily sunset happy hour - a Longboat Key tradition!
Dine al fresco or inside The Monkey Room and enjoy
2 for $35 Italian Classics
• Northern Italian Bolognese • Grilled Shrimp Linguini
• Pan-Seared Veal Marsala • Halibut Caprese
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THE LONGBOAT OBSERVER
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
our view “If we are to build a better world, we must remember that the guiding principle is this — a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.” Friedrich Hayek “Road to Serfdom,” 1944
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For a brighter future
For the past two weeks, we’ve attempted to shoot a bullet through the minds of Longboat Key residents and property owners about the future of Longboat Key. The context for this series is the town’s “visioning” process. Like many cities and counties throughout Florida, Longboat Key’s Town Commission decided more than a year ago to try to engage “the community” — that word always makes us think of commune and communism — in determining a common vision for the Key for the next 20 or 30 years. Recently, it decided to survey residents on what they want the future of the Key to be. We have never been a fan of these processes. It’s absurd to think that anyone can corral into a common vision Longboat Key’s population — 7,800 free-thinking individual people whose independent minds make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions each day and who have 7,800 different different needs and desires. Sure, it’s easy to say that Longboaters all agree they don’t want Longboat Key to change; they want it to remain one of the premier communities in Florida — in physical beauty and quality of life. But the pieces that make up that state of being are as different with each Longboat resident as the swirls on our fingerprints. For some Jet Skis are a horrible nuisance, for others they are not. For some, Gulf of Mexico Drive needs beautification, for others it’s just fine. For some, they are appalled at the number of motorists stopped by the Longboat Key police, for others that reassures them Longboat Key is a safe place. Or take the philosophy of this newspaper — “a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy” — versus the view of former Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown. In his newspaper column this past Monday, it was quite apparent Brown is becoming agitated that the members of the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Commission are showing signs of embracing actions that might break away from the freedom-robbing controls he and others voted in place 30 years ago. Wrote Brown: “Why do you think we have possibly the toughest growth-control rules in the country? “Because they — and the great majority of the people on the Key who elected them — did not want tourism. Nor did they want more than limited commercial. … Anti-tourism, controlled development was the theme around which today’s island was built … ” We’re at the opposite end of Brown, but we also want what Brown wants — Longboat Key to be what it has been … a great place to live. But Jim Brown’s time does not stand still. What worked then for them will not work the same way going forward. Just look around. Longboat Key is undergoing a generational change — in people and in its physical structures. The Key is not new as it was in the 1980s; much of it and its people have aged. And if Longboat Key holds to its policies of the past, the Key will lose what it has been and what it has. This is undeniable. The Key is less of a vibrant place today than it was just five, 10 years ago. Change is irrefutable, unstoppable, inevitable. How, then, should the Key, how can the Key change for the better? We won’t pretend to have “the” answer or “the” answers. Town Commission members don’t either. Nor does the town’s vision consultant. None of us has the proverbial silver bullet that will guarantee a brighter future. But we have some ideas. Last week
we called them thought starters. So here they are — thought starters that can lead to the formula that would keep Longboat Key a great place to live for another 30 years: Dig deep into your heart and soul and evaluate what is more important to you: democracy or liberty. The distinction should be the basis of everyone’s thinking on this matter of the Key’s vision. Make no mistake: liberty and democracy are not the same. Writes author James Bovard recently in an essay entitled “Democracy Versus Liberty”: “There are few more dangerous errors in political thinking than to equate democracy with liberty.” Bovard described in his essay a scenario in which a foreign power took over the United States and dictated that Americans hand over 40% of their incomes, submit to tens of thousands of commands, forfeit the use of their land and be denied the chance to find work. “There would be little dispute that the people were being tyrannized,” Bovard wrote. “Yet the main difference between the current reality and the foreign-invasion scenario is the democratic forms by which government power is now sanctified.” In other words, we have let democratic majorities tyrannize our individual liberties. Americans have forgotten — or they are ignorant of the fact — that their forefathers in the late 18th century, when our nation was born, believed as John Phillip Reid wrote in “The Concept of Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution”: “The less a law restrained the citizen, and the more it restrained government, the better the law.” The framers of Longboat Key’s laws in the 1980s did not believe that. They believe in their hearts that Longboat Key became what it is because the democratic majority — so-called “government by the people” — shackled Longboat’s land use to their view of the world. People often say Longboat Key would not have become what it is had they not done that. No one knows for sure. But going forward, we must not forget: As Bovard wrote in his essay: “The Founding Fathers fought for a government that would respect their rights, not for a government that would allow them to forcibly micromanage the lives of their fellow citizens.” Liberty is not democracy.
Sunset Longboat Key’s entire zoning code. We should force ourselves to review the labyrinthian laws that dictate every screw, door handle and size of shrub that residents can and cannot use on their properties. Revise what is obsolete. Re-draft a framework that makes sense for the next 30 years, for an island that will be more about redevelopment than development.
Convert to a strong-mayor form of government. This would bring real leadership and vision to the town. As is, the city managerTown Commission model creates a benign caretaker. We plod along; it’s comfortable that way. No one is the town’s champion. We’ll never have a Rudy Guiliani, a CEO-mayor who fights and pushes to be great.
Organize a PR campaign that attempts to rally the Key’s citizens and property owners to create a “Longboat Legacy.” Corny as it may sound, create more community pride. Try to persuade more Longboat citizens and property owners to care about the island’s future. Promote the long-term health and viability of the Key as a selfcontained municipality. Remind again
and again residents to shop and support the Key’s businesses, restaurants and stores. Be a catalyst for changing the inequity of Florida’s Save Our Homes law. Bang the drum with symposiums with legislators and other policy makers that sparks and leads to meaningful change.
Invite Joseph Lesser, managing partner of the owner of the Longboat Key Club and Resort, to come to Longboat Key and share with town leaders and residents his vision for the club and resort. Over the past two weeks, we’ve said twice Lesser is one of the most important figures in Longboat Key’s long-term future. He must be engaged to be a tangible, not distant part of the process.
Invite Colony Beach & Tennis Resort owner Murf Klauber and his daughter, Katie Klauber Moulton, two other key figures and ingredients in Longboat’s future, to do the same — share their vision of the Colony and what it would take to remain a leading independent resort over the next 20, 30 years.
Accept that the Colony and Key Club and Resort need to expand. Not necessarily in the number of hotel rooms, but, more important, in their conference center space. These institutions are crucial not only to Longboat Key’s economic health. They are crucial to the economic health and growth of Greater Sarasota. As we wrote previously, real estate fuels Greater Sarasota’s economy. Greater Sarasota needs more hotels and conference centers that can attract business executives and visitors who in turn buy and sell our real estate and help make our region a dynamic, vibrant environment. Too many people here see growth as negative. But the dynamism of people flow incubates diversity and discovery. It makes us richer all the way around.
Revise and relax the town’s density restriction amendment in the comprehensive plan. This must be done to address the Key’s oversupply of commercially zoned property. Longboat is built out; and yet its density is below what it otherwise could have been. So revise the code to give every commercial property owner the opportunity to present an alternative use. Then judge each proposal on its merits. Town Attorney David Persson would argue this could not work; he would advocate a uniform set of rules to avoid lawsuits alleging unfair treatment. But he also jokes that Longboat Key’s zoning policy over the past 30 years has been quite simple: arbitrary and capricious. It’s no joke; it’s true. Somehow we must allow owners of commercial tracts the opportunity to create economically viable alternatives. Today they cannot — and, unless we change, they never will … much to the Key’s long-term detriment. Encourage creativity, don’t fear it.
Permit the development of mixed uses on commercial properties.
Or, in the end, we can do nothing. We can abide by the status quo. To do that, however, would be the equivalent of a Hurricane Katrina blowing ashore. Except that the destruction will occur not over 30 minutes, but over 30 years. What will be our legacy? Rebuilding what we have must start today. Your thoughts, comments and, especially, ideas are welcome.
The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
MY VIEW by Randy Clair | Guest Column
Five-year rule should be abolished The town’s five-year, flood-control ordinance is hurting Longboat Key homeowners. It prohibits them from updating and protecting their homes. The Town Commission at its Sept. 21 workshop moved forward to its Oct. 9 regular meeting consideration of a new model flood-control ordinance prepared by the state of Florida, Division of Emergency Management. This model ordinance does not change the long-standing FEMA rule prohibiting making “substantial improvements” to an existing non-conforming FEMA structure (building), i.e. spending an amount for improvements equal to or more than 50% of the value of the structure (building) determined by the fair-market value of the structure immediately before the improvement. I have been criticized for supporting the repeal of the so-called TLBK “five-year rule.” Here is my reasoning: The current TLBK Flood Control Ordinance “five-year rule” prohibits making any improvements to your property if the cumulative value of all improve-
ments over a five-year period exceeds 50% of the fair-market value of your property on the date that the first improvement was commenced. The “five-year rule” also locks in the value of your property from the date of the first improvement until five years later. This provision was adopted more than 10 years ago. It is important to point out that FEMA in its current flood-control regulations does not require such a prohibition nor does the state of Florida model flood control ordinance. I am an advocate of the basic rights of our citizens to decide how they wish to improve their property, whether they wish to tear down their structure (building) and construct a new FEMAcompliant structure in its place or wish to remodel their home, so long that there is no violation of FEMA’s substantial improvement rule to a FEMA non-conforming structure. I also believe that the
Letters TO THE
law of economics is the primary and most important factor in our citizen decision and not the prohibitions of the TLBK “five-year rule.” Please consider the following facts: As of Dec. 31, 2005, there were about 1,745 single-family residences on Longboat Key, of which it is estimated that 675 were conforming to FEMA floodcontrol regulations, leaving a balance of about 1,070 non-conforming single-family residences. Between Dec. 31, 1995, and Dec. 31, 2005, 131 single-family residences were torn down, or 12% of the non-conforming FEMA homes, and new single-family residences constructed in their place. In 2004, 20 single-family residences were demolished, which is the highest number recorded. If the 10-year average rate of demolition continues, it will take 81 years to accomplish the objective underlying the current TLBK flood-control ordinance five-year rule. It was inaccurate for Al Green to state recently that in Emerald Harbor “ … a third of the homes have been torn down and rebuilt.” The facts do not support his statement. Only five out of 82 Emerald Harbor homes have been demolished and reconstructed, or 6%.
I suggest that the factual evidence clearly establishes that the current TLBK “five-year rule” has not been effective accomplishing its objective, which is said to be “hurricane proof TLBK.” Only 13 homes have been torn down each year over the past 10 years. I further suggest that the TLBK “fiveyear rule” has had the opposite effect of impeding improvements to our single-family residences and results in unreasonable restrictions upon our citizens. So that you will understand how the application of the current TLBK “five-year rule” creates unreasonable results, please consider the following hypothetical situations: Assume in all cases that you own a single-family home having a fair-market value of $150,000 and that in the first year you make improvements to your home in the amount of $74,000, just under $75,000, the 50% FEMA rule for substantial improvements. The fair-market value of your home does not increase as a result of the improvements but is locked at $150,000 for five years. 1) In year two, you wish to install hurricane shutters to protect your windows at a cost of $3,000. Sorry, under the current
TLBK” five-year rule,” if you want to spend more than $1,000 to install the hurricane shutters, you must tear down your home. 2) In year three, your spouse is disabled, and you wish to make your home compliant with the Americans with Disability Act requirements at a cost of $10,000. Sorry, under the current TLBK “five-year rule,” if you spend more than $1,000 to fit your home for disability access, you must tear down your home. 3) In year four, a storm causes $5,000 damage to your roof. Your homeowner insurance company agrees that the damage is $5,000. Sorry, under the current TLBK “five-year rule,” if you want to repair your roof for more than $1,000, you must tear down your home. Your homeowner insurance company will most likely not pay to replace your home because the actual roof damage is only $5,000, which is less than a constructive total loss. For all of the foregoing reasons, I believe that the time has come to make the necessary changes to the existing TLBK flood-control ordinance to eliminate the “fiveyear rule.” Randy Clair is a commissioner for the town of Longboat Key
IT’S READ EVERYWHERE
To send in your letters please e-mail them to lburke@longboatobserver. com or mail them to The Longboat Observer, 5570 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 34228. The Longboat Observer gives priority to letters of local interest and about local issues. The Observer will print all letters to the editor if it feels they are of general interest, but only if the letter is signed and the author’s street address and phone number are given. the editor reserves the right to condense letters.
Some suggestions Dear Editor: Ahem! On the Makepeace Groin model: Did I miss something in the translation? What better model could there be than the one at the Colony that has been working successfully for these many years? Come on now, folks, this is beginning to border upon the ludicrous. On the visioning survey: Nothing like spending money to find out a survey isn’t needed! I must have missed something in all the rhetoric on this one, too. Really now, if our town funds are burning holes in our bureaucrats pockets I can suggest several more worthy places for it than either of the foregoing. 1. Initiate action to obtain and install those nice blue bus stops with covered benches we see along bus routes off key. They look good, are functional and needed. 2. Have those useful but ugly exposed pipes, such as the one facing Gulf of Mexico Drive at the Whitney Beach shopping center, covered with some acceptable type of structure similar to the one constructed at the lift station by Lyons Lane. 3. Get busy and turn “our” Sister Keys into a public park with hired surveillance and sanitary facilities
for overnight campers at a small fee per person. 4. Obtain a good waterfront location with adequate dockage and establish a marine patrol operation under our present police authority and obtain at least one additional and preferably two identical marine patrol boats and staff the operation accordingly. At present, one rarely sees the police boat at work. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to envision a full-time marine police station at each end off the Key with emergency facilities. 5. Obtain suitable property to establish an emergency treatment facility and helio-pad somewhere around mid-Key and staff it with our E.M.T. personnel. We have an inordinate number of elderly folks residing here on Longboat. When an emergency occurs, time saved in transit can make the difference between life and death. Surely our wealthy town is equal to these challenges. 6. Take a long look at the overall condition of our bike path and bring it up to standard. Where there isn’t one on south Key consider installing one. It would go a long way toward keeping residents off the far-too-narrow one on the state road. The reason should be obvious. There’s a few suggestions where our money would be will spent instead of the incessant boon-
Peggy Warner, Judy Beck, and Jack catch up on their Observer news while enjoying a beautiful Canadian sunset on Mississagna Lake, 200 miles northeast of Toronto, Ontario.
doggles with “foreign” consultants that mean, well … but really now ... sugar sand … at what price? What’s next?! Just trying to help. Rolland S. Freeman Longboat Key P.S. The floating fish gatherer was money well spent — like the canal dredging. Let’s consider making them both permanent operations.
An open letter Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the Town Commission and The Longboat Observer. Dear Editor: I cannot believe that you voted to renew discussions with Sarasota on reclaimed water. (Cheers to commissioners Seikmann, O’Connor and Whatmough for voting against it.) Let me again bring some warnings to your attention. A letter from the Florida Department Environmental Protection (DEP) dated May 2000 states:
“From a health perspective, the key issue that must be addressed pertains to the potential for contamination of the aquifers by reclaimed water. A number of factors need to be investigated such as: a. Viability of pathogens b. Presence of viruses c. Transport and die-off rate of pathogens in ground water d. Infective dose of pathogens The issue is not only the quality of the reclaimed water used for irrigation, but whether this water will contaminate the drinking water aquifers and wells.” The Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council states that reuse projects should be “an option of last resort,” due to the many uncertainties and potential health risks. Manasota 88, an excellent watchdog organization, has this to say: “Manasota 88 opposes the use of reclaimed water for irrigation purposes. Reclaimed water has not been demonstrated to be environmentally acceptable and not to be a threat to public health and safety. Domestic waste-water
has the potential to contain pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupters and other industrial and medical wastes.” Did you know that up to 90% of drugs taken by humans are passed into wastewater, and many are highly water-soluble? These same drugs appear in the water as it leaves the treatment plant, including estrogens, antibiotics, analgesics, beta-blockers and many more. The recent news of E-coli contaminating the spinach supply should make you stop and think twice. The city of Cape Coral on the Gulf Coast — where the population has grown from 12,000 to 85,000 in the past 25 years — is almost entirely dependent on desalinated water for drinking. The city has one of the biggest desalination plants in the state. Why doesn’t the town of Longboat Key team up with the golf course owner and go for desalination? Think about it. Virginia Sanders Former Water Committee member
The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2006
3EARCH /PEN (OUSES
MANATEE WATERFRONT. Ten acres of splendid tropical paradise and a quality built 3BR open plan home plus a guesthouse. Set on a canal with seawall & boat dock. $8,500,000. Jan Sgueglia, 9079595 or 350-3312. #534366
Anna Maria Island
LONGBOAT BAY ISLES. Beautiful, spacious 4BR & office recently remodeled waterfront home in Longboat Key's most exclusive neighborhood with a large outdoor entertaining terrace. $2,995,000. Annette Rogers & Michael Moulton, 383-7591 or 387-0800. #302526
7ITH OUR ALL NEW /NLINE /PEN (OUSE 3EA SEARCH OVER OPEN HOUSE LISTINGS BY ARE PROPERTY TYPE OR NUMBER OF BEDROOMS AND YOU CAN MAP OUT THE OPEN HOUSES YOU WANT WEEKS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AT WWWMI COM BY 7EDNESDAY GIVING YOU PLENTY OF TIM 3UNDAY OPEN HOUSE TOUR ! COMPLETE LIST OF O ALSO AVAILABLE AT YOUR NEAREST -ICHAEL 3AUNDE SALES OFFICE 777-)#(!%,
ANNA mARIA ISLAND
EXQUISITE VIEW OF TAMPA BAY and the Skyway Bridge from the ground level lanai, 2nd living level, 3rd level master & 4th level sundeck. $1,100,000. Diana Kryszak, 388-4447 or 993-4078. #322569 BRADENTON BEACH. Ideal beachfront duplex for investor and/or family. Close to shops & dock for bay cruises & fishing. Two 2BR residences with garage & updated kitchens. $970,000. Dick Lewis, 388-4447 or 302-3348. #308124 CORTEZ BEACH. Unique duplex across the street from the beach with Gulf views from almost every room. Conveniently located to Gulf beaches, bay, fine dining & shops. $920,000. Melissa Watkins, 383-7591 or 730-5227. #527199 ANNA MARIA ISLAND. This lot can be purchased subject to the current owner completing rezoning for residential use. Overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay. $775,000. Michael Moulton & Annette Rogers, 383-7591 or 928-3559. #313028 Longboat, Lido & Bird Keys
LONGBOAT, LIDO & BIRD KEYS
A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY to own 1.95+/- acres on Longboat Key. Already subdivided into four individual canal-front lots. Nearby beach access. $3,500,000. Saint Cacchiotti & Gail Wittig, 383-7591 or 387-0533. #288805 VILLA DI LANCIA. Enjoy spectacular Gulf-front views from this beautiful 5BR penthouse with expansive terraces. Includes spacious living & dining areas with fireplace, gourmet kitchen & breakfast bar. $3,500,000. Julie Klick, 388-4447 or 780-6001. #324315 LONGBOAT KEY CLUB. Beautiful executive home with tasteful & total renovations including new marble flooring, a newly designed state-of-the-art kitchen & a private dock. $2,595,000. Saint Cacchiotti & Gail Wittig, 383-7591 or 387-0533. #297583 BAYFRONT ESTATE LOT of 1/3-acre on Bay Circa Longboat Key Pass. Two-BR home with an open plan located within the privacy of Land's End. Lot 1 of Savarese Inlet. $1,995,000. Joan Bergstrom, 383-7591 or 504-6809. #318110 SABAL COVE - LONGBOAT KEY. Custom built & beautifully maintained in Bay Isles overlooking the golf course & tidal water lake. This 4BR features a large family room with fireplace, gourmet eat-in kitchen & heated pool. $1,950,000. Betty C. Poma, 388-4447 or 587-5233. #324425 JEWFISH KEY. This beautiful one-acre, deepwater estate lot is located in La Lenaire Isle subdivision on a 38-acre island with 17-acre nature preserve. $1,500,000. Joan Bergstrom, 383-7591 or 504-6809. #318255 BUTTONWOOD HARBOUR. Beautifully maintained 3BR pool home with a new 30' dock. Completely renovated with a chef's kitchen. Sold turnkey furnished. Excellent rental possibilities. $1,295,000. Saint Cacchiotti & Gail Wittig, 383-7591 or 387-0533. #302112 BAYVIEW ESTATES. This updated split plan ranch is just a few homes from the bay. Features spacious wood decking, a boat lift & dock space for multiple vessels. Direct access to the Gulf. $1,095,000. Melissa Watkins, 383-7591 or 730-5227. #324549 ISLANDS WEST. This beachfront two-bedroom, 11th floor residence is freshly painted and newly carpeted. $949,900. Valerie Woodger, 951-6660 or 313-5500. #306492 CASA DEL MAR. Multiple 2BR units available at this popular Gulf-front resort with onsite rental office. Offers buyers great vacation getaways & short-term, year-round rental income. From $539,000 to $949,000. Richard B. Perlman, 383-7591 or 228-8580. #314467 TANGERINE BAY CLUB. Light & bright end unit in Longboat Key's most unique complex. A topnotch maintenance crew ensures year-round paradise & a casually elegant lifestyle. $949,000. Steve Magner, 383-7591 or 376-8559. #324376 BEACHPLACE. First floor walk-down to the beach. Enjoy Gulf views over a large pond with fountain. Turnkey furnished & ready for you. $849,000. Craig & Steve Abbott, 383-7591 or 3743003. #324763 DEEDED BOAT DOCK. Fairway Bay townhouse with deeded boat dock, 3-car garage, pool & beach club. $799,000. Donna Stewart, 383-7591 or 993-3635. #305165 BUTTONWOOD COVE. This 3BR features a deepwater boat slip, under-building parking with a large storage closet, 2 tennis courts, beach park, clubhouse & heated pool. $749,000. Craig and Steve Abbott, 383-7591 or 302-0686. #291520 SOPHISTICATED BEACH LIVING. This open floor plan is complemented by updated granite, plantation shutters & an expansive balcony to attract Gulf breezes. Beachside Olympic-sized pool. $700,000. Kathy Carbone, 966-8000 or 228-8429. #310070 BUTTONWOOD COVE. Magnificent bay views from this 2BR, bright, designer decorated & furnished condominium with Florida room. Enjoy your own boat dock, a heated pool, tennis & more. $669,900. Doris Bushman, 383-7591 or 350-0318. #307762 LOVELY LONGBOAT KEY TOWNHOUSE in a very private location overlooking a park-like setting. Move-in condition with new appliances & fully furnished. $510,000. Christina Ashley, 383-7591 or 780-0291. #306479 THE GARDENIA HOUSE. Surrounded by gardenia bushes, this lakefront, totally updated, lovely home is a must see. This freestanding villa is located on the park near the entrance & across from deeded beach access. $499,000. Maruta Miluns, 383-7591 or 374-9702. #309694 WONDERFUL BAY VIEWS. Set in Longboat Harbour, this residence boasts tile throughout living & dining rooms. Across from tennis & only steps from pool, boat dock, community center & fitness. $389,000. Jim & Matt Hanrahan, 383-7591 or 383-5753. #319273
THE OAKS. Warm & inviting, this exceptional, beautifully maintained 6BR Mediterranean-style home is nestled among majestic oaks on the Heron Course. Home warranty provided. $1,362,000. Karen Cash Greco, 966-8000 or 928-1005. #323442
THE BEST OF DOWNTOWN LIVING. Wide views of vibrant cityscape from the most sought-after floor plan in 100 Central. Split plan bedrooms, bright den/office, wraparound terrace & luxurious kitchen. $1,150,000. Linda Roe Dickinson, 388-4447 or 350-3304. #383939
4(/5 3!. $3 /&