Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary marks first victory for big aviary

REDINGTON SHORES — Bird lovers flocked to Town Hall on Thursday to display their support for the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary's effort to build a large flight cage for injured hawks, ospreys and other predatory birds.

"Birds of prey need space to strengthen their wings before they are returned to the wild," Michelle Glean Simoneau, the sanctuary's marketing and public relations coordinator, told the board.

The birds are now housed in individual cages in the sanctuary's bird hospital, where many further injure themselves, Simoneau said.

To build the 40- by 20-foot aviary, a size required by U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations, the sanctuary needed a setback variance on its eastern property line bordering the San Remo condominium parking lot.

After more than two hours of testimony, the town's Planning and Zoning Board approved the setback variance and a site plan for the new aviary 4-1, with only Chairman Bonnie Stein opposed.

The next step toward construction of the aviary is getting the site plan approved by the Town Commission. That panel will decide on Jan. 6.

The sanctuary is at 18323 Sunset Blvd., on the west side of Gulf Boulevard and just south of the Indian Shores town line.

When Redington officials refused in September to grant a building permit for the aviary, the sanctuary began a massive public relations campaign and sought a hearing before the Planning and Zoning Board.

"The Town of Redington Shores should be supportive of the SSS, and be lenient on zoning codes that were created decades after the (seabird) medical facilities are established," the sanctuary argued in a news release distributed to thousands of area supporters.

Many of those supporters responded with letters and e-mails to the town. They also filled the town's commission chambers Thursday.

"The Seabird Sanctuary is a beacon on these shores," said one supporter. "Let this be Redington Shores' legacy for years to come and support for this labor of love."

Greg Sather, an Illinois resident whose property here abuts the sanctuary, praised the work it does rescuing birds, but also complained in a letter that the hospital often is not a "good neighbor."

He mentioned the "bad smell" coming from many of the bird cages, the blocking of his access to the beach during nesting season, and moldy sand stored on the street.

But no one attending the hearing objected to the aviary — particularly not Skeeter, a 9-year-old Eastern screech owl, who perched patiently throughout the meeting, turning occasionally to look at the audience.

Skeeter was donated to the sanctuary as a baby and cannot be returned to the wild, unlike the injured raptors increasingly brought to the bird hospital.

Simoneau explained that loss of habitat in the county has increased the number of injuries to predatory birds. "We are receiving hundreds of eagles, hawks, ospreys and owls, especially babies, each year. We really need this aviary to continue the work that needs to be done."

The sanctuary, which rescues up to 10,000 birds a year, opened in 1972 and is now the largest nonprofit wild bird hospital and sanctuary in the country, Simoneau said.

Stein, the head of the Planning and Zoning Board, said codes trump everything else.

"Probably all of us have been to the Seabird Sanctuary and think you are doing a great job for the birds," Stein said during the hearing debate. "But what we do here has to consider not just the Seabird Sanctuary but the town of Redington Shores. This board has to look at the code. That is our job."

Planning and Zoning Board member Bob Phillips said the sanctuary had made a compelling argument and praised the organization for its "phenomenal" work.

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary marks first victory for big aviary 12/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 11, 2009 4:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater man hospitalized after diving from boat into shallow waters

    Public Safety

    A 49-year-old man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries Sunday after he jumped off a pontoon boat into shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

  2. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the …

  3. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht

    Nation

    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  4. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.