Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas commissioners cite overlay plan in rejecting East Lake ALF

EAST LAKE — At least the neighbors can agree on this: The East Lake Tarpon Community Overlay did its job.

The overlay, which was created in 2012, defines the unincorporated community as being ". . . known for its quiet, scenic neighborhoods of unique residential communities and limited small businesses providing a safe and fun place to grow up.'' Pinellas County commissioners are required to follow its guidelines when making planning and land use decisions.

In recent months, East Lake residents have cited the overlay as they have confronted Foxwood Estates LLP, a developer that wants to add a 40,000-square-foot assisted living facility to its plan for a 10-home subdivision on East Lake Road, just south of Crescent Oaks Boulevard.

Opponents of the ALF reminded county commissioners of the overlay at a commission meeting last week, urging them to deny the developer's request for land use and zoning changes.

The result: Commissioners voted down the changes.

Last year, commissioners rezoned the 22-acre tract from agricultural to residential planned development for Foxwood Estates. Commissioners also gave the developer permission to build a 5,000-square-foot medical building.

But later, the developer was contacted by the Watercrest Senior Living Group of Vero Beach, which wanted to build an assisted living facility on the property. So Foxwood Estates returned to the county to ask that the zoning on about 3.4 acres be changed to institutional to allow an 84-bed ALF.

At the commission meeting last week, Peter Pensa, who represented the developer, said his team has worked for months with the community and county staff to ensure that the project honored the overlay's intent, including lowering the number of proposed beds.

The developer agreed to 68 beds after residents opposed the size of the facility.

Pensa also contended that while the overlay defines the corridor as a safe place to grow up, ". . . by integrating an ALF in the neighborhood, not only is there opportunity to grow up, but to grow old too, while staying in the neighborhood where friends and family are."

Don Ewing, president of the Council of North County Neighborhoods, which has members from more than 30 North Pinellas communities, also spoke to commissioners at the meeting.

In January, CNCN members told the developers their project violated the overlay and they could not support it, he said. However, after the developer revised the plan, CNCN ". . . believes it honors the overlay objectives that we helped create in 2012, which you approved," Ewing said.

However, CNCN's support was overshadowed by dozens of opponents from Cypress Run, who live across East Lake Road from the project site. More than 50 of the neighbors rode a shuttle bus to the meeting, many bringing signs that expressed their opposition.

They also brought Michael Foley, a Clearwater attorney who specializes in land use cases. He reminded the commissioners that ". . . the land use changes would be forever . . . What happens if the ALF goes out of business? What happens if another developer or buyer comes in and says an ALF doesn't work there?"

Commissioner Ken Welch didn't need more convincing.

"Based on the fact that this is eight times the size of the original medical building planned and the fact that there is so much opposition, I can't support this," he said.

The commission voted 5-2 against the request. Commissioners Susan Latvala and Janet Long voted in favor.

After the meeting, Ewing said that though his organization supported the ALF, he saw a positive in the commission's denial.

"The good news from this activity is that the community overlay, which CNCN championed for three years, did its job," he said.

Piper Castillo can be reached at pcastillo@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Pinellas commissioners cite overlay plan in rejecting East Lake ALF 02/28/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2014 4:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'

    K12

    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. [iStockphoto.com]
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]