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St. Pete Beach to consider Coconut Inn land-use, zoning case again

Joe Caruso, owner of the Coconut Inn at 113 11th Ave. in Pass-a-Grille, wants a land-use designation so the hotel would qualify for Traditional Hotel District zoning. Nearby residents oppose commercial intrusion.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2009)

Joe Caruso, owner of the Coconut Inn at 113 11th Ave. in Pass-a-Grille, wants a land-use designation so the hotel would qualify for Traditional Hotel District zoning. Nearby residents oppose commercial intrusion.

ST. PETE BEACH — The City Commission on Tuesday will again consider the controversial Coconut Inn land-use and zoning case.

Last May, owner Joe Caruso and the city agreed to seek a compromise development agreement that would give Caruso what he wants — the ability to redevelop his Pass-a-Grille hotel — and residents what they want — protection against commercial intrusion into their neighborhood.

The Coconut Inn, at 113 11th Ave., is a grandfathered hotel surrounded by residential homes.

Ironically, many of those home­owners have garage apartments that they rent out to tourists.

Particularly at issue is a second adjoining lot behind the hotel and fronting on 12th Avenue.

The lot has no structure on it and is used primarily for guest parking.

Area residents strongly oppose any commercial structures on that lot.

Attorneys for the hotelier and nearby residents were instructed in May to bring a proposed development agreement back to the commission for consideration at Tuesday's meeting.

As of Friday, no such development agreement had been submitted.

The commission could delay the matter again, or it could decide it based on the original application.

Based on previous discussions, the commission appears unlikely to approve the Coconut Inn request without major restrictions.

What Caruso wants is a land-use designation so the Coconut Inn would qualify for Traditional Hotel District zoning.

The THD was established several years ago in an effort to preserve the small hotels and mixed character of Pass-a-Grille.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, homeowner Ron Holehouse, who strongly opposes Caruso's request, has yet to respond to a city notice of code violation for his home on 13th Avenue, diagonally across from the Coconut Inn's rear lot.

The city believes Holehouse may have renovated part of the home without a permit and may be illegally renting part of his home to tourists and has asked to inspect the interior of his property.

He was asked to respond to the city's request Wednesday, but he actually may have until this week to avoid being referred to the city's special magistrate.

The magistrate has the power to fine Holehouse up to $500 a day if he finds the city's suspicions are valid.

Holehouse is a member of the city's Planning Board.

St. Pete Beach to consider Coconut Inn land-use, zoning case again 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 4:30am]
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