Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

School superintendent, political candidate win land-use approvals from Tampa City Council

TAMPA — In one case, it was a high-profile Democrat who's running for the state House.

In another case, it was the superintendent of Hillsborough County schools.

In both instances, the Tampa City Council on Thursday granted them land-use changes despite significant opposition from neighbors, prompting charges of political favoritism.

"We live in a democracy in which one of the basic principles is majority rules," said Patricia Torres, who spoke against a request by school superintendent MaryEllen Elia to rezone her property so she can enclose a patio.

The rezoning makes her property the only one with a planned development designation in the entire neighborhood. Torres called the council's support of Elia a "repulsive display of political cronyism."

Neighbors say they worry what type of future development will be allowed on the property with its special zoning.

In a first hearing on the matter last month, Elia appealed to council members as fellow public officials, saying she needed the patio because her privacy had been invaded when a neighbor took a picture of her home.

On Thursday, the council voted 4-3 in favor of Elia, with council members John Dingfelder, Linda Saul-Sena and Mary Mulhern voting against the request.

Dingfelder, who voted in support of Elia last month but against her in Thursday's final hearing, said his vote had nothing to do with Elia's position.

"It's not true about me, it's not true about the rest of us," he said. "I don't care if it's the mayor, the governor or the president."

Tampa, he said, is "really a small town," and longtime residents know each other.

"We can't make decisions based on who people are. We have to make decisions based on the facts," he said.

The council also voted to give Stacy Frank, a candidate for the District 57 state House seat, a waiver from height restrictions so she can build a 150-foot telecommunications tower in South Tampa.

"This is all about political favors," tower opponent Lisa Williams said after the vote. She and others are concerned about safety and aesthetics.

The vote was 4-2 in favor of Frank, with Dingfelder and Mulhern voting no. Saul-Sena abstained from the vote because her husband works for the company that wants to use the tower.

Council member Charlie Miranda said that although he made a contribution to Frank's campaign, that was simply because he thinks she would make a good state lawmaker. "It has nothing to do with the way I vote and the way I do things," he said.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

School superintendent, political candidate win land-use approvals from Tampa City Council 03/18/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 12:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]