LBK Voters Approve Commission Term, Density Changes

City

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAR 14, 2019

Longboat Key Town Commissioners will have longer terms and the island may boast a few more homes following the passage of two referenda Tuesday night. 

Voters approved a density change for land owned by the Mote Scientific Foundation, making it more marketable. The organization owns 1.82 acres on Gulf of Mexico Drive previously zoned only for commercial uses. Now, someone can build as many as seven residential units on the property. 

"I thought that was overdue, something that should have been taken care of a long time ago," says Mayor George Spoll. "There's no demand for commercial space on the Key to speak of. This is the perfect way to clean somthing up in the town."

Town Commissioners voted in December to put the density question before voters. Density changes such as this are required by the town charter to be approved by voters. Voter had previously rejected density increases for the land, but that happened the same day voters rejected a controversial hotel redevelopment plan. Standing as the only density change on the ballot, it passed easily.

Almost 56 percent of Longboat Key voters supported the density change.

Voters also made a substantial change regarding the election of town commissioners. Instead of being elected to two-year terms, commissioners will now serve for three years. This will require a staggering of elections. Commissioners will still face a six-year term limit. 

“It was all positive,” says long-time Town Commissioner Jim Brown, who this year decided not to run for re-election.

Not everyone agrees, though. Spoll considered the change an unnecessary waste of time. "I personally liked two=year terms," he says. "It has not been an impediment to me."

But voters seemed to latch onto the case it would incentivize more people to run for office if terms were longer. The measure passed with more than 62 percent of the vote. Indeed, the one glaring absence from the Longboat Key ballot this year was actual Town Commission contests.

Mike Haycock won election unopposed to succeed Brown in an at-large seat. City Commissioners Spoll and Jack Daly won re-election in Districts 2 and 4 respectively without opposition. 

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