Madeira Beach to explore how to allow major hotels

MADEIRA BEACH — If the city wants to attract major hotel developers, it will have to change its land use plan and land development regulations.

On Tuesday, the City Commission will begin discussing the impact of such changes during a 1 p.m. workshop session.

"Having a major hotel is part of our economic well-being on the beach. It makes us stronger economically for our restaurant and retail businesses," said Paula Cohen, the city's director of planning and zoning.

The city is considering a development plan similar to one established in 2001 for Clearwater Beach. That plan, dubbed "Beach By Design," was revised in 2007 to set up a 14-acre special marina district between the Clearwater Memorial Causeway and Belle Harbor condominiums where developers are allowed to build taller buildings if they include mixed uses, such as stores, restaurants and hotels.

City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. plans to discuss how Clearwater's approach could be adapted to Madeira Beach.

Clearwater created a density pool that allows hotel developments to have 150 to 210 units per acre.

Since that plan was adopted, the Pinellas Planning Council completed a countywide study of maximum tourist densities. As a result of that study, the council is unlikely to approve such high tourist densities today, Higginbotham said.

"It would be necessary for Madeira Beach to contract with a land use consultant to conduct an intense land use and infrastructure impact study," he said.

Higginbotham said he favors a maximum tourist density of 100 units per acre on properties that are 3 acres or less. Larger properties should be able to develop at the rate of 125 units per acre, he said.

The maximum density allowed in the city now is 60 units per acre.

Higginbotham is also compiling a list of properties vacant or for sale that are large enough or could be consolidated to attract hotel development.

Madeira Beach to explore how to allow major hotels 10/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 3, 2009 5:31am]

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