The Belleair Town Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night to delay by six months a decision on a new zoning designation that would have paved the way for demolition of the historic Belleview Biltmore hotel.
The contentious vote followed 2 ½ hours of comments by about 40 of the more than 150 residents and hotel admirers who packed town hall to speak for or against the proposal.
A new buyer, Michael Cheezem, has a contract to buy the hotel and wants to replace it with condos or townhomes.
But the land's current zoning, which only allows for hotels or single-family homes, would not allow that. So, town staff proposed a new zoning designation that would allow for townhomes or condos on the Biltmore site.
However, Commissioner Stephen Fowler said the city's historic preservation code doesn't allow buildings like the Biltmore to be demolished for the purpose of building something non-historic. He called for an injunction against the current owners and urged the city to hold off on creating a new zoning designation that would allow them to move forward.
Commissioners Tom Shelley and Michael Wilkerson sided with Fowler. Mayor Gary Katica and Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto dissented.