Hard-to-Find Solutions to Longboat Beach Access Question | Rowboat key


For the past three years, Brenda Cantin has made the 20-minute drive to Longboat Key North Beach from Palma Sola.

The retiree enjoys walking on the Manatee County side of Longboat Key beach and looking for seashells.

Palma Sola resident Brenda Cantin likes to visit Longboat Key beach for walks and collecting seashells.

“This beach has always been a nice, peaceful, quiet beach,” Cantin said.

Perhaps in terms of stillness, but the rage at City Hall over access beyond the seawall at 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive these days is anything but.

Cantin and her husband would go far south, looking for unusual finds at the beach, sometimes beyond the seawall on the property known as Ohana.

“He was beating me over there and he was sitting on the other side,” Cantin said recently, just steps from what is now a forbidden barrier.

months ago after Seawall repairs after Hurricane Eta in 2020, Ohana owners posted signs that their property is now off limits. The property extends to the water’s edge.

To avoid trespassing, bathers can either wade through the surf or use a pair of public access points to leave the beach and skirt around the property.

The dilemma raised tempers on the beach, leading to several police calls and an arrest. City leaders discussed potential solutions on Monday but came to no conclusion.

Among the ideas are a set of legal and technical notions such as a voluntary easement, an eminent domain procedure, invoking customary use provisions, additional sand, a walkway or jetty and additional public access points to an easier detour.

the Rowboat Observer did not hear from the owners of the property despite leaving a voicemail, emailing and ringing the bell button on the security gate. However, Sarasota-based Berlin attorney Dan Guarnieri Patten Ebling represents the owners of Ohana and spoke to the city commission on Monday.

“As private owners, they are currently legally responsible for the public use of this property, and that’s a situation that not many people find themselves in,” Guarnieri said. “Few people find the public walking through their property, and sometimes in dangerous conditions without being able to mitigate that danger.”

Dan Guarnieri, a Sarasota-based Berlin attorney for Patten Ebling, is representing the owners of Ohana. He spoke before the City of Longboat Key Commission on Monday.

Guarnieri provided the city commission with photos and footage of people entering Ohana’s property, day and night. He also provided a video showing a boy injured after jumping off the seawall in the Gulf of Mexico.

“He’s not an owner who moved in and is a bah-humbug so to speak,” Guarnieri said. “They have legitimate concerns that they are trying to address.”

Earlier this month, the owners of Ohana offered the city to provide annual compensation between $880,000 and $1.3 million for public use as a road in front of the property.

“It didn’t strike me as a reasonable proposition, not only because of the amount involved, but also because it was structured as an annual lease rather than an actual easement, and heaven knows we don’t want to visit this every year,” District 1 Commissioner Sherry Dominick said. “That just seems absurd to me.”

“What was presented here, I believe, by the owners appeared to me to be in bad faith,” District 2 Commissioner Penny Gold said. “It wasn’t a real proposal.”

Under the proposal, the city would also be responsible for maintaining the leased area, at an additional cost of approximately $72,000 per year.

Manatee County public records show owners of the property at 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive paid $147,596.98 in property taxes in 2021. Records show Ohana owners have paid six figures in property taxes since 2013.

In 2019, the Ohana property sold for $11.4 million. Kathryn Hutcheson sold the property to “Elliott, Robinson & Company, LLP, a Missouri Limited Liability Company, as trustee of the Ohana Hale Estate Land Trust”.

Guarnieri said Ohana hired Richard Bass of Sarasota-based Bass Fletcher and Associates to do an appraisal of about 1 acre of their property. It is made up of sand inside the Ohana Seawall.

“Right now the only people who have made efforts to quantify the value of this type of lease or easement arrangement have been my clients, so that’s where the number comes from,” Guarnieri said. . “It didn’t come out of nowhere. It was generated by a real estate appraiser.

Schneier told Guarnieri to pass on the following to his clients after Monday’s meeting.

“When you add in an amount of about $1 million more or less a year…it calls into question what you were hired to come here and try to present, which is kind of the public spirit and the reasonableness of your customers. Schneier told Guarnieri. “It seriously calls that into question.”

On Monday, commissioners also heard from Marc Preininger, owner of the seawall at 6541 Gulfside Road. The Preininger property is known as the “Half-Moon Dyke” and is located just south of the Ohana site.

“I can answer any question about seven years of public access to someone who reluctantly allowed it,” Preininger said. “Every day I had a confrontation.”

Preininger estimates that 90% of people who cross his property are respectful. However, he said he had encounters ranging from fishermen refusing to leave his seawall to people urinating on his property to catching a couple in a sex act.

“Whatever you do with Ohana, you have to do with me,” Preininger said. “I haven’t closed my side access, but what I’ve been through in seven years, my patience is over and I’m personally responsible for it, and it’s my investment.

“(If) someone falls, guess who gets chased? I am.”

Preininger said former City Manager Dave Bullock considered purchasing the property at 6541 Gulfside Road on January 31, 2014, on behalf of the city, to demolish the seawall and public access structure.

“To say that if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it,” Preininger said.

Years ago, the city also considered buying the property where Ohana is located at 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

On Monday, Preininger said he and Ohana owners need to replenish the sand inside their private levees after tropical storms and hurricanes, while the city will carry out those tasks for the remaining 10.5 miles. public beaches.

Marc Preininger owns the seawall at 6541 Gulfside Road.

The Preininger Dyke does not extend as far into the Gulf of Mexico as the Ohana Dyke.

The city has another seawall at the Longbeach Condominiums at 7065 Gulf of Mexico Drive. However, the property has a lot of sand in front of the seawall after the completion of the north end dredging project in town.

Adding more sand around the Ohana Seawall lacks long-term feasibility, according to data presented by Director of Public Works Isaac Brownman.

Brownman estimated that it would cost the city $3.1 million per year if it placed 200,000 cubic meters of sand in front of and around the Ohana property. About 66,700 cubic meters are lost each year near the Ohana Seawall, which the city experienced when it concluded its beach restoration project. If the city added between three and six rock groynes, the annual costs would drop to $931,000.

“We can’t keep dumping sand there,” Deputy Mayor Mike Haycock said.

State regulators have said they will not issue crossing permits.

Schneier suggested the city take a multifaceted approach. He also suggested the city approach nearby property owners to see if they would agree to more agreeable terms for an easement.

The city moved tons of sand in front of the Longbeach Condominiums seawall at 7065 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“I think we should quickly reach out to owners on either side of this and see if there’s an arrangement that can be made,” Schneier said. “Maybe we’ll be lucky with those people adjacent or nearby to have a way out to the street.”

However, Haycock expressed concern about the potential cost.

“My worry is that we’re going to spend a lot of money and nobody’s going to use it,” Haycock said.

Several northern residents spoke to the city commission on Monday. It includes One Island, One Beach nonprofit chair Laurel Phillips. She said One Island, One Beach was created in November to specifically address the Ohana Seawall issue.

“We’re not asking for a picnic or using their sandy beach as a viewing platform for the 4th of July fireworks,” Phillips said. “There’s nothing reasonable about their offer when it doesn’t coincide with how we would use it.”

Northern Resident Pat Kaufman mentioned that there is a trained dog on the property to ward off intruders.

Ohana’s owners put up signs on their private property to keep people out. File photo

“Basically, we were shocked when passage was denied,” Kaufman said. “(We) were shocked by the watchdog. It really is a very scary problem, and we feel trapped at the north end.

The Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department approved a permit in December 2020 for the reconstruction of the Ohana Seawall following storm damage during Eta the previous month. The work was valued at $132,000.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection authorized the Ohana landowners to repair the walls and instructed them to build the repaired walls 5 feet inland from the damaged wall.

Cantin said she was also a supporter of finding a way to allow people to walk along or near the seawall.

“I would like to step on it, but it’s been like this for months, so it’s in my head, ‘Ok, I’m not going to go,'” Cantin said. “On my first visit, we were walking to the other side, and it was nice. It was a longer walk.


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