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Ruskin's Little Harbor gets county okay

RUSKIN — A divided County Commission has approved Little Harbor's request to allow daily rentals in 158 condo units.

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In a meeting earlier this month, representatives of developer Earthmark Inc. said the change would help make the Ruskin resort more appealing to tourists and decrease the project's impact on surrounding neighborhoods.

But several residents who live near Little Harbor disagreed, arguing that late-night parties and traffic jams would destroy their peaceful community.

That, Mariella Smith said, "is a Tampa hotel, not a Ruskin hotel. There's no market for this in Ruskin."

Ultimately, county commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of the change. Commissioners Brian Blair, Jim Norman, Al Higginbotham and Kevin White voted for it. Commissioners Mark Sharpe, Rose Ferlita and Ken Hagen dissented.

As a condition of their approval, commissioners required the developer to promise not to bring in an independent motel brand such as a Days Inn or a Motel 6.

Daily room rentals will be allowed, but Little Harbor officials expect that many guests will stay at least several days.

"We don't want to leave the light on for the neighbors," Blair said.

But Ferlita said that promise was not enough to relieve her concerns.

"For the people that are living there, this changes their whole way of life," she said.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 661-2454.

Ruskin's Little Harbor gets county okay 06/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 28, 2008 8:47pm]

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