Biltmore rezoning options will receive some action
The Belleair Town Commission this week will hear a presentation on proposed new mixed-use zoning options for the Belleview Biltmore hotel property and take a final vote on another option that would let condos or townhomes be built on the site.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Belleair Town Hall, 901 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
The hotel's 2009 closure has split the community.
Current zoning on the Biltmore site allows only for a hotel or single-family homes.
Some town residents support the new zoning categories, saying the deteriorating 117-year-old structure has left a tax revenue void and driven down property values.
Hotel admirers, who hope a preservationist will buy and restore the hotel to its former glory, fear adopting new zoning options will encourage developers to demolish it.
JMC Communities, which has a contract to buy the hotel from its Miami owners, has proposed building condos, townhomes, a restaurant, event space and perhaps a small inn that replicates or preserves part of the original hotel.
Retirement is not in the plan for Bill Horne
City Manager Bill Horne said Wednesday that he has no plans to retire this year and hopes to squelch a rumor to that effect spreading through the city.
Horne, who has been city manager since 2000, said several people approached him in recent days to ask him if he intended to retire at the end of this year.
"Now is not the time to think about leaving," Horne said. "I wouldn't think of doing anything destabilizing."
Major initiatives all require his attention, Horne said. Those include negotiating a 60-year lease of the City Hall property to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a new facility, securing land for a downtown parking garage and picking a location for a new City Hall.
"I would want to see those things through," he said.
A recent conversation with a "community leader" may have been the origin of the misunderstanding, Horne said.
A retired Air Force colonel who will turn 65 in June, Horne said he will re-evaluate his options in 2016.
"I don't think I'm a Zev Buffman," Horne said, referring to the energetic 84-year-old CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall who recently signed an extension through 2016.
Live oak, crape myrtle among free trees for Arbor Day
Clearwater will celebrate Arbor Day with a brief ceremony and a tree giveaway starting at 9 a.m. April 26 at the Public Utilities Complex, 1650 N Arcturas Ave.
Residents of Clearwater may receive two free trees per household. Trees available will include red maple, live oak, slash pine, winged elm, persimmon, four colors of crape myrtle, dogwood, red cedar, Walter's viburnum, weeping willow, magnolia and bald cypress.
More than 2,000 trees will be given away on a first come, first served basis. Each tree will be in a 3-gallon tub.
People will have to prove they live in Clearwater by presenting a voter registration card, Florida driver license or a recent utility bill.
Humane Society offers summer camps for kids in grades 5-10
This summer the Humane Society of Pinellas will offer summer camp in three sessions.
From June 9-13, fifth- and sixth-graders can attend the Junior Caretaker Camp and learn to care for animals and recognize the importance of animals.
From June 23-27, seventh- and eighth-graders can attend Animal Explorer Camp, where they will learn to align their choices with their values and learn how animals and humans share this world together.
And from July 7-11, ninth- and 10th-graders can attend Animal Career Camp to learn about a different animal-related career each day. Early registration is $125 through April 30 and includes a T-shirt and a healthy snack each day. To reserve your child's space or to learn more, visit humanesocietyofpinellas.org.
Art classes and workshops begin this week
Registration is open for spring classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center's Gladys Douglas School of the Arts.
Daytime, evening and weekend classes plus one-day to week-long workshops in a variety of media are available this session, which lasts Monday through May 25. Tuition rates are discounted for DFAC members. Scholarships are also available.
For more information or to register, visit the center at 1143 Michigan Blvd., call (727) 298-3322 or visit dfac.org.
Votes on gun range, Sponge Docks
Residents are expected to pack City Hall, 324 E Pine St., Tuesday night as city commissioners take up two controversial votes:
• Developers want approval to build Reload Gun Range, a nearly 60,000-square-foot, 45-lane indoor shooting range proposed for 40050 U.S. 19, north of Klosterman Road. It would be built on the site of a long-vacant, dilapidated motel and restaurant on the east side of U.S. 19.
The range has already won the support of city staff, the Planning and Zoning Board and neighbors in the Stonehedge on the Hill Mobile Home Park. But emails and phone calls have also filtered into City Hall from a contingent of residents and others hoping to block the range, which developers say would be one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the Southeast.
• Commissioners will decide whether to postpone a $1.3 million plan to beautify and enhance the Sponge Docks tourist district, which would have included a boardwalk along the Anclote River. They also will decide whether to move forward with the less controversial parts of the plan, including better lighting, benches and landscaping.
Tuesday's meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. For more information, go online to ctsfl.us or call (727) 938-3711.
Tarpon Guard is victorious
The Tarpon Springs High World Guard brought home the title of 2014 World Champions in the Scholastic World division of the WGI World Championships this month.
The competition was held April 3-5 in Dayton, Ohio. Tarpon Springs High sent 20 students to the competition, where they finished with a score of 97.25 points out of a possible 100.
The World Guard classes are part of the curriculum at the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts. Instructor Jeannine Ford, has been the guard director at Tarpon Springs High for 19 years.