It has been 3 1/2 years since Wal-Mart's plan for a supercenter just south of the Pinellas-Pasco county line was approved by the Tarpon Springs City Commission. Since then, the retail giant has faced several hurdles, including permit problems and opposition by residents who say they are worried about the environment, traffic and impacts on local businesses. The company has had to modify its site plan, and the city's planning and zoning board will consider those changes at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 324 E Pine St. The meeting is open to the public.
What's the scope of the project?
Wal-Mart has proposed a 203,000-square foot, 24-hour supercenter on 74 acres on the east side of U.S. 19 just south of the Anclote River. It was supposed to include a liquor store, drive-through pharmacy and tire lube express, but Wal-Mart removed those elements from the plans. Still included are a public kayak launch area, bus transfer station and garden center.
Wasn't this all settled after that 12 1/2 hour meeting in 2005?
In January 2005, the City Commission voted 3-2 to approve Wal-Mart's plan. The company submitted an amended site plan in August 2007. City staff deemed the revisions minor, but an anti-Wal-Mart group, Concerned Citizens of Tarpon Springs, appealed that decision to the city's Board of Adjustment and won. The board agreed with Concerned Citizens — also called Friends of the Anclote River — that the changes were major, requiring new hearings before the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission.
What were the sticking points in the revised plan?
Modifications deemed major were: inconsistencies in the wetlands acreage on the site (originally stated as 33.5 acres and later documented as 28.1 acres); addition of encroachments into the river and wetlands buffers for stormwater control; inclusion of an additional entrance; and a land use change from preservation to recreational use where a wetland mitigation area was redesigned to include a nature trail.
Will the planning and zoning board Monday be voting to approve or deny the new plan?
No. The board serves an advisory function and will review the modifications before making a recommendation to the City Commission.
The City Commission will hear the recommendations and review the changes Oct. 21. To avoid another all-night meeting, the city has reserved Oct. 22 to continue the meeting if necessary.