DUNEDIN — The City Commission finally approved a new ordinance Thursday that would require developers to start construction within two years of site plan approval on new projects.
The unanimous vote came two weeks after tempers flared during a raucous meeting and action on the ordinance was postponed.
Although not everyone in the audience agreed with the language in the ordinance, the scene was calm and orderly this time, with everyone keeping their emotions in check.
According to Greg Rice, Dunedin's director of planning and development, here's what was decided:
• Builders will have two years from the date they file a site plan to start construction. They will not be offered an 18-month extension as had been suggested.
• Richard Gehring and Bill Kimpton, developers who filed three site plans, including one for the planned $30-million Marina condominium and retail project at Victoria Drive and Main Street, will be exempt from the new rule.
"The commission was trying to give them a reasonable time to get their project going,'' Rice said. "To do that, they decided on a three-year amortization period. At the end of that period, they will get another two years. Other approved site plans will get the same consideration.''
Jerry Rehm, a former Dunedin elected official, supported the plan.
"This economy that we've got to bring back to Dunedin I think is going to pick itself up based on what you're doing tonight,'' he said. "You're bringing certainty to a situation that two weeks ago looked like it was impossible to resolve.''
Two weeks ago when city commissioners discussed adding an expiration date to approved existing plans, City Hall chambers exploded into a verbal melee.
One commissioner argued with developers in the audience. During a break, Commissioner Deborah Kynes had some harsh things to say to Kimpton, one of the developers of the Marina condominium and retail project.
The meeting was so ugly that Mayor Bob Hackworth decided to postpone a decision on the issue until Thursday night.
This time was different.
"I think (the ordinance) was received pretty well,'' Rice said.
Eileen Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4153.