by Robin Hartill | News Editor
Town, WCIND to draft agreement on cost share for $760,235 sand project The town’s estimated cost for an upcoming West Coast Inlet Navigation District (WCIND) dredging project that will place sand on the severely eroded north end this summer will be approximately $300,000. Town Manager Dave Bullock made the announcement at the end of the Longboat Key Town Commission’s April 21 regular workshop. Bullock told the commission that WCIND accepted a $760,235 bid by Cavache for a project that would trap 88,000 cubic yards from northwest of Jewfish Key. WCIND had agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the project, with the town making up the remaining cost. WCIND’s attorney will begin to draft an interlocal agreement between the agency and the town, which Bullock expects will be completed in early May. Earlier in the workshop, town staff gave a presentation updating the commission about the project, in which WCIND will dredge the channel northwest of Jewfish Key to prepare to install flood shoal sand traps in that area. The traps, once installed, will trap sand that is swept off the north end of the Key and deposited in a large sandbar near Jewfish
Key. “Unless the commission directs me otherwise, I’m telling (WCIND) to move full-speed ahead,” Bullock said before receiving consensus from the commission to proceed with the project. The town will get 100% of the sand dredged for its shores, with Manatee County receiving 100% of the sand the next time the site is dredged. Future projects will receive a 50/50 split between the county and the town. Sand will be placed just north and south of the severely eroded beach near the Longbeach Condominium. Bullock told the commission he is optimistic that some sand will still be in place in 2015, when construction of two groins will begin, barring major storms this summer. Longbeach Condominium President Bob Appel expressed support for the effort in an April 18 email to Bullock. “The sand that the state is willing to put in front of our property will be very helpful in our survival over the next couple of years,” he wrote. Appel also wrote that the condominium is in the process of obtaining a permit to build a seawall, which could offer protection during storms.
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014
by Robin Hartill | News Editor
Discussion avoids 237-unit elephant in the chambers The commission discussed possible changes to its nuisance procedure without mentioning the shuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. The Longboat Key Town Commission discussed its public nuisance procedure for buildings at its April 21 regular workshop, but never mentioned the shuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. How was that possible? Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale warned commissioners that site-specific discussion must occur in a quasijudicial setting. “It should be focused on the current code, itself, and not on any pending proceedings that could be before you,” MooneyPortale said. Since December the town has discussed whether it could legally require Colony parties to demolish structures on the property. The commission planned to hold a March 5 quasi-judicial hearing to determine whether each structure met the criteria for the town to deem it a public nuisance. That hearing was canceled after Colony Beach & Tennis Association attorney Don Hemke argued that the association did not receive due process. Town Manager Dave Bullock told the commission Monday that deeming a structure a public nuisance is effectively an order to demolish, according to town code.
“When you get to the point where you make the determination that a building is a nuisance, you have no choice,” Bullock said. “Once you make that determination, then the die is cast at that point and the code really limits you in what you can do.” Assistant Town Manager Anne Ross told the commission that, as another option, it could consider adding a requirement that the owner secure the building. “This would allow a little more flexibility with the code given the situation of the structure,” Ross said. Even before Mooney-Portale’s warning, Bullock avoided mentioning the Colony, noting that the town has used its publicnuisance procedure for buildings three times: once for Whitney Beach Plaza and a second time to determine that a town-owned building was in disrepair and should be torn down. “Of course the third one is the one that we’re dealing with now,” Bullock said. After Mooney-Portale’s warning, Mayor Jim Brown proceeded with caution. “Having said that, let me just generally say… ” Mayor Jim Brown said, drawing laughter from the audience. “The town
needs to be careful about going down rabbit holes that last years and spend thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff and legal time, which will be appealed at dozens of occasions without end, when something’s going to happen without us doing this anyway. And we have no means of recovering any of these costs. And that doesn’t sound good, but I see that that’s what we’re doing on some of our projects that we’re talking about.” Vice Mayor Jack Duncan questioned whether the town could avoid legal battles. “We’re still going to run into the same potential legal battles as far as whether we can make them put up a fence or close the entrances off or repair potential threat items,” Duncan said. Bullock said the town could require a property owner to secure a building before it reaches the quasi-judicial hearing stage. “In other words, you say, ‘We know it’s a bad building, but prior to us finding that it’s a nuisance, we order these things done.’” Mooney-Portale said that changes must provide due process for property owners. The commission reached consensus for staff to draft language with the proposed changes.