Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Pinellas commissioners deny Crystal Beach dock request, again

PALM HARBOR — Just like they did five years ago, Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday considered Glenn and Leah Bergoffen's request to vacate the public right of way in front of their home on Maryland Avenue so they could build a 300-foot-long dock. And just like they did in 2008, commissioners voted unanimously against it.

But this time the commissioners added a denial with prejudice, making it clear that they did not want to hear the same request again.

More than 140 residents of Crystal Beach crammed the County Commission chamber and an overflow room Tuesday to listen to the three-hour discussion.

Although Todd Pressman, a zoning consultant who represented the Bergoffens at the meeting, submitted a petition with 224 signatures of people he said favored the project, only three people spoke in support of the Bergoffens' request during the meeting. Forty spoke against it.

The Bergoffens live in a $1.5 million home on the Crystal Beach waterfront. But between their home and the Intracoastal Waterway there is a wide swath of public land that includes a footpath used by people who walk along the waterfront.

The couple asked Pinellas County to vacate a portion of the public property to ensure their access to the dock they plan to build. They said they would then grant an easement to the county to "restore the public's right for access,'' Pressman said.

Pressman told the commissioners that the Bergoffens live along a part of St. Joseph's Sound where vessels anchor, calling it "an unregulated, nonpermitted boat mooring location.''

By building what Pressman described as an "environmentally friendly'' dock, the Bergoffens would help in "the promotion of sea grass in the area.''

When the audience got its chance to speak, Justin Lis, 12, made it clear he disagreed.

"If this dock passes, more people would want to have a dock, which would mean more dead grass, more cut-down mangroves and more boat traffic,'' he said.

Linda Henry, a lifelong resident of Crystal Beach, took issue with the idea of a private citizen receiving public waterfront.

"The original developers set the waterfront aside for all to enjoy," said Henry, 69. "The strip of land (from Ohio Avenue to Georgia Avenue) was designated for all of the people, all of the time. It is called the front yard of Crystal Beach."

County Commissioner Susan Latvala made a motion to deny the couple's request.

"This application shows a blatant disregard, in my opinion, for the history, tradition and legal intent of this very, very special community,'' she said.

Several commissioners, including Norm Roche, said they want to ensure that the public waterfront in Crystal Beach will be preserved long into the future.

"I would like to see staff go further and report back to us on how this can be, once and for all, designated as a public park or prevent us from having to go through this again,'' he said.

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.

Comments

High school scoreboard for Dec. 15

Friday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 7, Clearwater 0Osceola 9, Bradenton Bayshore 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Plant 1Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 0, Plant 0Lennard 4, Armwood 1
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Dec. 15, midday:01 563 0000e_SRit95765Fri., Dec. 15, evening:12 287 1492e_SRit04851Fantasy 5Fri., Dec. 15...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is very little these days that can dampen the mood of Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise, whose Gators knocked off reigning national champion Stanford in Thursday’s NCAA semifinals and face Nebraska tonight for the title. Not...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Updated: 8 hours ago