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North end ordinance hits a bump
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TREASURE ISLAND – The future of Treasure Island’s proposed North End Planned Development ordinance temporarily remains in limbo.

In a May 1 letter to City Attorney Maura Kiefer, attorney Charles Siemon of Boca Raton said the city’s charter mandate requiring a referendum for changes in land development regulations would not, on face value, violate state law but the application to a development order would violate House Bill 537, a growth management law also known as the Anti-Referendum Act that was passed a year ago.

The draft ordinance targets an area along John’s Pass owned by Homeowners Choice Inc./Greenleaf Capital LLC where Gator’s Café now exists. If passed, it would allow the site to be planned, developed, operated and maintained according to an approved development plan.

City leaders have long sought a redevelopment of the area and the construction of a major resort facility. Greenleaf Capital has not submitted plans but has indicated it is interested in developing such a project.

One of the principal parts of the ordinance is the process for changes in height and density. The area is currently zoned Commercial General and would likely be rezoned Resort Facilities High. Both designations allow for a maximum height of five stories above one level of parking. RFH-50 allows a maximum density of 50 tourist units per acre. CG allows 22 tourist units per acre.

Increases in either height or density would require approval by voters. Therein lies the problem.

In his opinion, Siemon said a referendum would violate House Bill 537 because it would constitute a change in the city’s official land use map and a rezoning would fall within the definition of a development order, according to House Bill 537. Both situations could leave the city open to legal action.

Siemon suggested the ordinance be changed to eliminate the referendum requirement between first and second reading. In addition, he suggested the scope of the NEPD be expanded to avoid the appearance that the ordinance applies to “a limited number of persons or property owners.”

Siemon was the lead attorney for the city of Boca Raton in Archstone Palmetto Park vs. the city of Boca Raton, which dealt with issues involving House Bill 537. Siemon is considered an authority on House Bill 537 since it was passed by the Florida Legislature last June and has appellate court experience with the legislation.

Further discussion on the proposed ordinance is expected at the May 20 meeting.
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