Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Residents facing ouster from Largo RV park threaten legal action

LARGO — Dozens of residents of the Briarwood Travel Villa and RV Park plan to stand in front of Largo City Hall today to protest a developer's proposal to build an apartment complex on the woodsy property they call home.

Landlord Steve McConihay, wants to turn Briarwood, a 138-space RV park near Largo Mall, into a 260-unit apartment complex.

If he gets his way, park residents — many elderly, disabled and living on less than $1,000 a month — will be displaced, said Christine Allamanno, an affordable project staff attorney for Gulfcoast Legal Services.

"Our fear is that if the project moves forward as it is planned, we will have low-income, disabled people who will become homeless,'' she said.

Tonight, the Largo City Commission is scheduled to discuss a development agreement for McConihay's project — one step of several required before he can break ground. But if the City Commission approves the agreement, Gulfcoast will take legal action, said Allamanno.

"Briarwood is these residents' permanent home, and most of their homes, trailers, campers, RVs are over 10 years old. No other park will take them,'' she said. "When you are displacing people like this, it's traditional ... to give a portion of apartments to the people or maybe give them a rental subsidy for a finite period of time so they can stabilize. And so far, this is not being done.''

Attorney Jonathan Damonte, representing McConihay, disagreed.

"Everyone in Briarwood has a month-to-month lease, and they own their homes, whether it's a trailer or RV, so none of them are homeless,'' he said. "And we are calling other parks and campgrounds and finding other places willing to take them in. We will also hire a mover to help them get out.''

Today's appearance by residents at City Hall will not be the first time community members have spoken out against the planned apartments.

After the City Commission approved the land use change for the project in November, neighborhoods surrounding Briarwood protested that the project and resulting traffic would destroy the wetlands and wildlife on the 14-acre RV park property and that the apartment buildings would hinder their views. The City Commission decided to add a development agreement to the steps McConihay would have to take to get started.

Last week, Allamanno invited city commissioners to tour Briarwood. "We first are concerned about the residents losing their homes, but there are environmental concerns about this too,'' Allamanno said. "There's a lot of wildlife out here. Briarwood is Pinellas County's best kept secret, and I don't think a lot of people know it.''

Only one commissioner, Jamie Robinson, accepted the invitation. Robinson said he didn't know about all the open space inside Briarwood until his visit.

Will he support the new project?

"I haven't made my decision yet. I have a lot of questions for the meeting while we discuss the development agreement,'' he said. "My first one, of course, is what's going to happen to the residents.

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

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 3 hours ago
Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

TAMPA — Firefighters were battling a blaze at Captiva Club Apartments on Thursday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.According to video taken at the scene, the roof of one of the apartment buildings at 4401 Club Captiva Dr. ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed at a restaurant about 3 p.m. Thursday.The deputies were at Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton when a man shot them through the restaurant’s window, a Sheriff’s Office statement said.A...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 6 hours ago
FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

ST. PETERSBURG — A distracted driver walked away unscathed after his car plunged 50 feet off Interstate 275, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Thomas Highhouse, 61, of Pinellas Park, was driving his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro south on Interstate 275...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

LARGO — Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who broke into a home early Thursday morning and confronted the owners with a knife.The incident took place about 3:40 a.m. at a townhouse at 7360 Ulmerton Road, according to Largo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

SEMINOLE — A Seminole man was arrested on allegations that he burglarized a home, set it on fire and stole the homeowner’s dog, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Austin Lang, 19, now faces numerous charges of burglary, arson and poss...
Updated: 7 hours ago