Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

Yes on new resort and politeness, maybe on streetlight fee, library hours

Clearwater

Six-story resort coming to a sliver of Clearwater Beach

The city's Community Development Board has approved the construction of a six-story, three-unit resort on a small lot on north Clearwater Beach. Some neighbors were concerned about the building's height, while other neighbors backed the project.

The project is at 669 Bay Esplanade along Clearwater Harbor in what's called the Old Florida District of Clearwater Beach.

The 65-foot-tall building, which will go on a 0.15-acre property, has what's described as "Deco-esque" architecture. The structure's first level will be parking. The second and third floors will each have three-bedroom units. The fourth, fifth and sixth floors will all be one unit with a rooftop pool and deck.

Residents of Five Palms, a two-story condominium next door, raised concerns about the proposed building's height. But land-use attorney Katie Cole successfully argued that the hotel's height and design complied with the city's master plan for beach redevelopment, called Beach by Design.

Group lobbies for more use of library and pool

Now that the economy appears to be improving, Clearwater Beach residents are asking that the Clearwater Beach Library remain open for more than 20 hours a week. The library is currently open only in the afternoons from Monday through Friday, but they're asking for it to be open eight hours a day.

A group called the Friends of the Clearwater Beach Pool, Library and Recreation Center showed up at Thursday night's Clearwater City Council meeting to ask council members to make this change during their budget deliberations this summer. The library's hours were cut during a budget crisis a few years ago.

The group is also asking for the pool at the beach's Family Aquatic Complex at 51 Bay Esplanade to remain open year-round.

Beach resident Anne Garris said the group has been told it would cost another $25,000 to keep the library open that much. It would cost $50,000 to operate the pool year-round because that would require solar or gas heat and a cover for the pool.

"Things are getting better," Mayor George Cretekos said, "but I think we're going to find out in the next couple of months that we're still looking at a budget deficit for the city of Clearwater, at least for one more year. So they're not as good as we would all like it to be."

Police warm up for charity softball

The Clearwater and Largo police departments will team up to take on the Tampa Police Department in the 10th Annual Charity Softball Challenge.

The game will benefit the three children of Tampa police employee Deanna Mendoza, who was the victim of a domestic homicide in January.

The charity softball game begins at 3:30 p.m. April 27 at Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $17.50 and include all you can eat and drink from 5 to 8 p.m. and admission to the Clearwater Threshers vs. Tampa Yankees game immediately after the charity game. Admission's free for children under 4.

There will also be games for children and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or in advance by calling the Clearwater Police Department (Roni Hunt) at (727) 562-4304.

Donations should be addressed to Cops for the Cause. The group is a registered nonprofit organization. For more information, go to copsforthecause.org.

Safety Harbor

Streetlight fee in the spotlight again

Safety Harbor commissioners are poised to revisit a controversial policy that charges property owners $50.97 for public streetlights.

The discussion arose at Safety Harbor's budget workshop Monday and could continue into the summer.

At issue is whether the city should continue charging the fee, which applies to roughly two-thirds of residents, or collect the money through property taxes. Currently, the fee is levied only against people who live on roads with streetlights the city leases from Progress Energy Florida.

Mayor Joe Ayoub said he still thinks the fee is the best way to pay for public streetlights because the amount is on the utility bill, and people know what they're paying for.

"No matter what we do there's going to be some residents who aren't happy," Ayoub said. "That's just a part of the job, and that's a part of what we signed up for."

Commissioners Nancy Besore and Nina Bandoni said they were unhappy when the commission approved the fee in December, and they remain so.

"I've received zero positive feedback," Besore said. "The only feedback I've received is from people who haven't seen a raise in six years saying, 'Commissioner Besore, what are you doing?' "

Dunedin

Zoning change for Nielsen property?

Wells Fargo will unveil a proposal Tuesday to change land use and zoning on the former Nielsen Media Research property it owns from light industrial/office to residential commercial. The hope is that the change would help the bank attract a buyer eight years after Nielsen moved operations from the 23 acres on Patricia Avenue to Oldsmar.

The City Commission will hear the request during a workshop from 9 a.m. to noon at Dunedin City Hall, 542 Main St. No votes will be taken during the informal session.

Also on the meeting agenda is a discussion about Dunedin's Comprehensive Plan.

Tarpon Springs

Just be nice, commission says

The Tarpon Springs City Commission voted to require appointed members of city boards to take an oath to be civil and courteous to people who come before their boards.

The reminder about manners passed unanimously without discussion, but comes after Mayor David Archie and other commissioners accused the city's Planning and Zoning Board members of bullying applicants.

The ordinance, which also requires members to swear they will uphold the U.S. and Florida constitutions, is effective immediately.

 
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