Make us your home page

St. Pete Beach quietly adopts comp plan

ST. PETE BEACH — With little fanfare and deliberately less comment, the City Commission once again approved new rules it hopes will fuel redevelopment, particularly along the hotel district on the Gulf of Mexico.

"We felt the less said the better," Mayor Steve McFarlin said Tuesday. "Any issues that are still under appeal will be a moot point by us readopting this plan. Hopefully, we are at a point that this is the end of this and we can move forward."

Ken Weiss, attorney for Jim Anderson, the resident who is appealing the city's previous actions on the comprehensive plan, disagrees.

He stressed that the plan is not officially in effect until the state issues a letter certifying its compliance with state law and regulations.

"That can't happen for 30 days, during which time anyone can file a formal objection to the plan," Weiss said.

Just before the commission approved the newest iteration of the comprehensive plan last week, resident Bill Pyle, who also had filed numerous legal actions to void the plan, voiced his continuing opposition.

"Our residents have a history of substantial opposition to over-development," Pyle said, listing four specific effects he said existed in the plan that would detrimentally affect property values at the beachfront Silver Sands Condominium complex.

City Manager Mike Bonfield sharply countered that there was "nothing in the comprehensive plan" that would allow public boardwalks behind private property, that would allow buildings to encroach any closer to the beach than previously allowed or that would declare any nearby properties as "blighted."

Bonfield did agree, however, that the new plan authorizes a slight increase in building height.

Four other residents spoke in favor of the new plan, urging the commission to approve it.

"It would certainly improve the city," said Rosemary Manning.

"Our community has gone backward and it is time for us to go forward. This city needs certainty and finality," said Deborah Nicklaus, whose family owns the Sirata Beach Resort.

Michael Lehman, a member of the city's Planning Board, also urged passage of the plan.

"We need a plan so this community can get on with things and redevelop," he said.

Deborah Martohue, a real estate lawyer and former city commissioner, echoed her support.

"This has been going on since 2000," she said. "We need to allow family-owned businesses to redevelop so they can reduce flood insurance costs."

McFarlin said although he couldn't be specific, he has heard there is development "interest in some of our larger properties."

McFarlin insisted that the commission's actions will ensure the city has a comprehensive plan unaffected by previous legal actions.

That plan has been a long time in coming.

The land use plan the commission adopted last week is intended, according to the ordinance itself, to "limit further litigation expenditures," "bring closure" to issues under appeal, eliminate any "uncertainty" over the city's development regulations and "provide certainty" to residential and business property rights.

Since 2000, there have been several versions of the plan, repeated lawsuits filed by a group of residents, several voter referendum elections held and a special law passed by the state Legislature.

Since the contentious and legal debate began 13 years ago — one remaining lawsuit, focused primarily on possible violations of the Sunshine Law — remains undecided at the appellate level.

St. Pete Beach quietly adopts comp plan 08/20/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 3:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]