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LONGBOAT OBSERVER

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2013

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by Kurt Schultheis | Managing Editor

INSURANCE CRISIS

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by Kurt Schultheis | Managing Editor

Telecommunications, boat parking top workshop agenda

Brown: ‘We are being punished’ by insurance

Residents planning to attend the Longboat Key Town Commission’s regular workshop at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, should bring a snack and plan for a long afternoon. Several items that pique the curiosity of residents all over the Key are on the agenda. Below, the Longboat Observer recaps items of particular interest to Longboaters:

Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, works to suspend an act that has wreaked havoc on insurance rates for property owners living close to the water.

• Telecommunications ordinance

Nothing packs Town Hall like a discussion about telecommunications. The ordinance under consideration states an applicant can seek 100 feet to 110 feet of height for a tower. However, the planning board suggests an amendment that would allow applicants to seek a waiver for additional height. The new ordinance also includes a hierarchal method for approval, calling for applicants to show that other preferred forms of less intrusive technologies are not feasible.

The new ordinance changes the allowed uses at the Longboat Key Public Safety Complex site and makes a cell tower an allowed use with the exception that a camouflaged tower is the only kind that would be permitted. The current rules allow towers only in institutionally zoned properties.

“We are being punished, it’s going to devastate our state.” Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown made that statement to more than 75 constituents who attended an insurance roundtable discussion Nov. 8, near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Brown explained rising insurance rates are causing financial hardships for barrier island residents and forcing some to consider moving to the mainland. Congressman Vern Buchanan, RLongboat Key, heard Brown’s concern and the concerns of others at the roundtable he called to discuss the rising cost of insurance and the impact it’s having on the area’s economy. “It’s just not acceptable to lose your home over rising insurance costs,” Buchanan said. Buchanan invited Brown and Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti to speak on the panel that also included real estate and insurance professionals. No one on the panel had good news to report. Brown reported that his wind insurance rose from $9,600 to $55,000 before he was able to negotiate a $23,000 annual premium. “Congress has got to look at this,” Brown said. “My wife and I want to sell our house and we’re not sure we will be able.” The Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) went through

Kurt Schultheis

Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, said “it’s just not acceptable to lose your home over rising insurance costs” last week at an insurance roundtable.

an overhaul after Superstorm Sandy ripped through the Northeast last year and caused major destruction, both to the area and the NFIP. That overhaul, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, is now costing property owners and diminishing their ability to stay in their homes. Buchanan, who supported the act’s approval when it passed in July 2012, is now trying to get the act suspended to return rising insurance hikes back to normal levels while alternative modifications are made. Buchanan plans to hold a delegation meeting Nov. 21 to discuss the issue. Buchanan has co-sponsored a bill “to fix this.”

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The Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board recommended a revised ordinance that would prohibit boat owners from anchoring their vessels on front lawns Keywide. Longbeach Village residents have opposed the town-wide ordinance, saying that a ban on boat-and-trailer parking in a historic boating community in which many lots don’t have waterfront access is unfair. Commissioners will review the ordinance in front of a crowd of Village residents who are expected to attend.

Also at its regular workshop, commissioners will: • Review a proposed resolution that allows the town to provide a defined contribution plan for the 11 members of the Longboat Key Police union as part of a three-year contract that also freezes the underfunded police pension plan. • Discuss modifying the town’s noise ordinance to include muffling equipment for lawn equipment. • Discuss town staff’s recommendation to dissolve the Zoning Board of Adjustment and assign its duties to either the commission or the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board. The recommendation is being made because the ZBA has not been able to obtain a quorum and hold a meeting for several months. • Set dates for early voting and the municipal election date for the March election. • Discuss Town Manager Dave Bullock’s annual performance. All seven commissioners submitted satisfactory evaluations with marks that ranged from satisfactory to excellent.

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• Boat parking ordinance

WORKSHOP PREVIEW

Longboat Observer 11.14.13  

Longboat Observer 11.14.13

Longboat Observer 11.14.13  

Longboat Observer 11.14.13