Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sand Key zoning dispute headed to District Court of Appeal

CLEARWATER — The City Council will appeal a three-judge panel's decision that it wrongly denied a Sand Key land owner's zoning request that drew strong opposition from a group of residents.

At its regular meeting Thursday, the council voted 4-1 to appeal the matter to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland. Council member Carlen Petersen was the lone dissenter.

"I'm not going to waste anymore taxpayers dollars on this," said Petersen, also the lone dissenter in the original council vote.

City attorney Pam Akin said the matter will be handled by an in-house attorney and would cost about $2,000.

In March, the council denied D.A. Bennett Co.'s request that its 3-acre slice of land at 1261 Gulf Blvd. be zoned Tourist as stated in the city's Development Code.

The designation would make way for a structure as tall as 100 feet on the site that is now home to the Shoppes on Sand Key, a commercial strip that caters to the island's residents.

Bennett appealed the decision to the 6th Judicial Circuit Appellate Division. On Monday, the court rendered a decision in his favor and ordered the city to zone the land Tourist.

"It's unfortunate that the city has chosen to continue asserting a position that has been found to have no legal merit," said Paul Raymond, Bennett's attorney. "Three judges unanimously found their position to be meritless. They want to continue to spend taxpayer money on that position, that's their decision."

City attorney Leslie Dougall-Sides told the council it had two legitimate grounds to appeal the decision.

Dougall-Sides said the court overstepped its authority when it ordered the city to zone the land Tourist. She said the court "simply should remand it back for action with accordance with the opinion," and not tell the council what to do.

Secondly, Dougall-Sides said, despite the court's order, the reason the zoning was denied was because the council found that the request did not meet one of the six criteria in the Development Code.

The criteria cited by the council was that the request was a "conflict with the needs and character of the neighborhood and the city."

A 20-year agreement between former owner U.S. Steel and Clearwater allowed up to 85,000 square feet of shops and restaurants to be built under a business zoning. The Shoppes on Sand Key was built. That zoning agreement expired in October 2006.

Bennett requested that the property be zoned Tourist as designated in the city's Development Code, but Akin said the Tourist-only designation was an oversight and that commercial should have been an option. The council changed the Development Code on Aug. 7, the same date the property was zoned commercial.

Sand Key resident JoEllen Farnham helped spearhead the grass roots "Save Our Shoppes" effort. She said the community is fully supportive of the city's actions.

Farnham said if the property is zoned Tourist, a developer could put 110 hotel rooms per acre on the property. If it is zoned commercial, only 50 rooms per acre are allowed.

"If zoned commercial, it would be less attractive to a hotel developer," Farnham said. "The other issue is he would be allowed to build higher, 10 stories. Under commercial, that's limited to five stories."

Farnham said the "Save Our Shoppes" group has raised funds and hired local attorney Alan Zimmet to assist it in fighting several matters, including this one, on the island.

"If they eliminate this retail, we would have to go off the island, either to Clearwater Beach or Belleair, in order to meet our needs," she said, "and the city recognizes the intent that it be commercial retail for the residents on the island."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or [email protected]

Sand Key zoning dispute headed to District Court of Appeal 12/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.