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Here’s what Longboat Key and Parrish residents approved, and didn’t, in special election

Super-heated growth has Parrish firefighters scrambling

The Parrish Fire District, serving a 97-square-mile area, is moving quickly to meet the challenge of rampaging growth with plans to build four new fire stations and the creation of a reserve program to supply its staffing needs.
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The Parrish Fire District, serving a 97-square-mile area, is moving quickly to meet the challenge of rampaging growth with plans to build four new fire stations and the creation of a reserve program to supply its staffing needs.

Longboat Key residents voiced their approval of two ballot issues while Parrish residents turned down a proposed increase in fees from the fire district in a special election Tuesday.

There were 2,760 votes cast in the Town of Longboat Key election and Parrish Fire District referendum, good for just over 18.5 percent voter turnout, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.

The unofficial results of Tuesday’s election show the Parrish Fire District referendum failed, with 51.73 percent of voters turning down the proposed increase for fire assessment fees.

According to the unofficial results, the referendum failed by just 74 votes.

The Parrish Fire District relies almost entirely on special assessments to fund its annual budget, according to the resolution.

“Although the vote did not come out in our favor, rest assured, we are dedicated to the health, safety, and welfare of the community. We will do our absolute best to utilize the resources allotted to us in best way we can,” Fire District Chief Stacey Bailey said in a news release.

Bailey said on the phone Wednesday they will be OK and the department will grow as the community does.

“We’re still going to do the best we can. We’re in good shape. The growth will take care of itself,” Bailey said.

Without the immediate funds, he said, it will take longer to get the money but the district will continue to move forward with plans to double its services, including staffing and an additional firetruck.

The money from the referendum would have fast-tracked the department’s growth to stay ahead of the community’s ongoing expansion.

“We have to get more people and that’s what this was really funding,” Bailey said.

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Meanwhile, voters approved changing Longboat Key Town Commissioners terms to three years with 57.79 percent of the votes going toward adoption.

Town Commissioners will now have a three-year term cycle, rather than two, beginning after the March 2020 election.

As the town makes the transition in term years with staggering of elections for seats, those elected to office during general elections in March 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 can serve a maximum of eight consecutive years as a commissioner.

Once the term transition is complete, the maximum term limit will be adjusted to six years in office.

Voters narrowly passed a density referendum in Longboat Key, which will allow a property to potentially be rezoned from commercial to residential use, with 50.73 percent of the vote.

Commissioners, with voter approval, can now consider a proposal to amend Longboat Key’s comprehensive plan and rezone the property at 5630 Gulf of Mexico Dr. to allow for residences. The land is owned by Bruce E. Franklin, representing Mote Scientific Foundation.

Rezoning the approximately 1.82 acres will allow for up to four residential units per acre, with a maximum of seven units on the land.

Voters passed the referendum, but the Town Commission would still need to grant approval of the request.

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