TEMPLE TERRACE — After getting an earful of complaints from residents packing an auditorium Thursday night, the City Council postponed deciding whether to approve construction of the 214-unit Towne Park apartments as part of a $160 million downtown development project.
Most residents who spoke at the four-hour public hearing raised objections, including the decision to build apartments instead of condominiums.
"Council, your job is to represent us, not the developer," said Tom Veit, who was among several expressing fear that the apartments could eventually become low-income housing.
Another key complaint is that the apartment buildings would not have retail stores on the ground floor, as planners originally envisioned.
Without stores under the apartments, they say, the area would lack the "main street'' ambiance.
Opponents got a boost from Charles W. Stephenson, director of the city's community development department.
He told council members that the development as presented does not comply with the city's master plan for the project.
Having residences "on the ground floor certainly does not speak of 'downtown,' '' he said.
Barry L. Lazarus of Inland Atlantic Development Corp., the apartment builder, told the council that he could never get financing for a mixed-use building plan because banks consider them to be risky investments.
The council voted to continue the public hearing at a March 20 meeting, after the developers and city planners have met to discuss disagreements.