Town staff aim to clarify land use policies as development proposals trickle in.
Longboat Key voters may decide on three separate requests for increased density for island projects this year — a town record, according to Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray.
And with the increase in project proposals comes a backlash from many residents. At a meeting April 4, several residents spoke out against a referendum that could ultimately allow Floridays Development Co. to increase density on a group of eight parcels at the north end.
But a successful referendum won’t automatically give Floridays permission to build the hotel. And the public will have more time to lobby the Town Commission.
If voters approve the Aug. 30 referendum, which town commissioners agreed to put on the ballot at the April 4 meeting, the developer will still have to get Town Commission approval for more density to allow 15 units on the north end property, a zoning category change and a site plan approval, which would include the request for 105 tourism units from the pool of 250 tourism units voters approved in 2008.
That means Floridays would need three decisions from town commissioners to proceed with a proposed 120-unit hotel, as Ray explained during a scheduled discussion of the town’s referendum process at Monday’s workshop.
“Because of the frequency and some of the misunderstanding is out there what the referendum does and does not do, we just felt like its an opportune time,” she said of the timing of the agenda item.
Along with Floridays request, Whitney Beach Plaza owner Ryan Snyder also received consent to move forward toward a November referendum during the workshop. Commissioners also approved a request from Harbour Square office complex owner Oscar Parsons to begin working on ballot language that could allow him to add a residential unit to the property at 4143 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Town staff refer to these referendums as “Mother, may I?” initiatives, because if passed they don’t automatically guarantee changes.
“Think of it as a gateway into the land use process,” said Bullock during the workshop. “That’s all it is: a gateway.”