Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Limits proposed to improvements at small hotels in Pass-a-Grille

ST. PETE BEACH — Proposed new zoning rules in Pass-a-Grille could sharply curtail the ability of small traditional hotels to redevelop to meet future economic demands.

Existing codes do not restrict the square footage of redeveloped hotels as long as they meet setback and height requirements.

But if the new rules go into effect, redeveloped hotels in the Traditional Hotel District (THD) cannot exceed their present square footage.

For example, if a hotel owner wanted to build guests larger bedrooms, they most likely would have to reduce the number of rentable tourist units.

Total square footage can be increased only to meet federal or state handicapped accessibility requirements, or to meet other building code requirements.

The proposed THD zoning ordinance also bans new swimming pools or spas at any Pass-a-Grille hotel south of 15th Avenue and lowers the building height from the present 35 feet to 32 feet. The latter change would have to be ratified by voters in a charter-required referendum.

"Planning board members and residents feel pools and spas generate too much noise. They also do not want hotels to be any taller than adjacent homes," city planner Catherine Hartley said.

"Quite frankly, I would not want to stay in a hotel without a pool," she cautioned the planning board during a meeting this month.

According to Karl Holley, the city's community development director, the main issue facing the commission is how to "balance the competing interests" of hotel owners and nearby homeowners.

"The proposed changes make the hotel zoning standards considerably more restrictive than they are presently," Holley said Monday.

The new THD rules were recently approved by the Planning Commission and are scheduled to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Board Dec. 2. If approved by the City Commission on Dec. 14, a second commission vote would be required for the rules to take effect.

Joe Caruso, owner of the Coconut Inn on Pass-a-Grille, calls the proposed new rules a "lynching" for small hotel owners.

Once in effect, the rules would prevent Caruso from rebuilding his hotel with amenities he says are necessary to compete successfully with similar small hotels on Anna Maria Island in Manatee County or in Sarasota.

Under the new rules he could keep an existing but aging spa, but cannot move or upgrade it.

"If they do this, I just might as well just hang it up. I've got to be able to compete with hotels in other towns," Caruso said Monday.

Caruso has been in a long battle with the city to get the right to redevelop his 1920s era hotel. He tried, unsuccessfully, last year to get THD zoning designation for his two lots.

Caruso has also sued the city for halting a recreation-area renovation project at the Coconut Inn, despite having earlier issued him a building permit for a planned gazebo and spa.

He reapplied for rezoning several months ago, but voluntarily put his request on hold until the city decided whether or not to change its THD redevelopment rules.

Ironically, the Pass-a-Grille THD zoning designation was created several years ago in an attempt to help preserve smaller hotels and the tourist business they create.

But when residents protested Caruso's plans to redevelop the Coconut Inn last year, the City Commission rejected the rezoning.

And when Caruso signaled he would reapply for THD zoning this past summer, Commissioner Beverly Garnett, who represents Pass-a-Grille, pushed for the commission to take another look at its zoning code.

Limits proposed to improvements at small hotels in Pass-a-Grille 11/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 12:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays make Hechavarria trade official


    Here is the release from the team ...


  2. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  3. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena


    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  4. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  5. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]