Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough schools leader gets city council permission to rezone her South Tampa lot

TAMPA — Despite the opposition of neighbors, the Tampa City Council on Thursday gave Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia permission to rezone her home's lot in South Tampa.

Elia has been battling neighbors for years over improvements to the home she bought in 2004. Most recently, the argument was over her attempt to replace a canvas awning over her patio with an aluminum roof. Elia was cited in September for starting the project without a permit.

Her next-door neighbor, Susan Gillett, complained that the solid structure just 3 feet from her property line was inappropriate.

Elia told the council her neighbor's opposition to the project has turned into harassment, with pictures of her home taken from inside the Gillett's house circulating throughout the neighborhood and City Hall. "I wonder where they're going to show up and how they're going to be used," Elia said. "We feel like we're being stalked."

She also said neighbors were accusing her of intentionally breaking laws.

Out of concern for her privacy, Elia now wants to enclose the patio with glass windows. Although Elia could have taken the project to the variance review board, her attorney, Gina Grimes, who also represents the school district, said Elia opted to go to the City Council because they have the ability to consider the "totality" of the situation, including the privacy issues. Elia just wants "to be able to put blinds up, be able to sit and talk without anyone hearing you, or taking photographs."

Neighbor Frank Rief told the council that even though the footprint of the home wouldn't change, the glass windows and aluminum roof substantially change the building. The issue of privacy, he said, "is just obfuscating the facts."

Council member Mary Mulhern moved to deny Elia's request, saying it seemed like an end run around the variance review board. Council member Linda Saul-Sena seconded the motion. But it failed with the remaining five council members supporting Elia.

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Hillsborough schools leader gets city council permission to rezone her South Tampa lot 02/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 11:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: The bats have disappeared



  2. Charges dropped against man accused of targeting Clearwater cop


    CLEARWATER — All charges have been dropped against a man accused of using a Clearwater police sergeant's personal information to open credit cards and a bank account under his name.

    Daniel Holuba was accused of targeting a Clearwater police officer.
  3. Boyd Tinsley talks Crystal Garden, Dave Matthews Band, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and more


    It’s time for Boyd Tinsley’s annual trip to Tampa. Only this year, for the first time since 2011 — and only the third since 1998 — he won’t be coming with the Dave Matthews Band.

    Boyd Tinsley performed with Dave Matthews Band at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa in 2016.
  4. Forecast: Dry conditions prevail across Tampa Bay, but rain chances build during week


    Another hot day is on tap for Tampa Bay, with muggy conditions prevailing and just a slim chance for afternoon showers.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  5. Live from St. Pete: Kriseman, Baker square off in TV debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayoral race goes into the home stretch starting Tuesday.

    Rick Baker, left, is challenging Rick Kriseman to become St. Peterswburg mayor. [Times files]