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North Pinellas letters: Deny 'T' zoning of Sand Key land

Deny 'T' zoning of Sand Key land

Today is a very important day, for both the Clearwater City Council and for some 4,000 residents of Sand Key. This evening, after hearing testimony from both the applicant and the residents, the council will vote to approve or deny an application to zone the property where the Shoppes on Sand Key is now located with a "T" designation.

"T" stands for tourist, which means the Shoppes could be demolished and replaced with a 10-story hotel.

If the council votes to approve this zoning application, it could well be a defining moment for the residents of Sand Key. Residents could possibly lose one of the best amenities they have as residents of Sand Key.

Unlike what some perceive, all of the residents who live on Sand Key are not wealthy. Many are retired, some retired military, and there are numerous others that live on a fixed income. The Shoppes on Sand Key provides businesses to do our banking, purchase milk and bread, take our dry cleaning, eat a meal, and get a Dunkin' Donut. Several other services are also available.

If the shops are destroyed, a 3- to 4-mile drive would be necessary to go to either Largo or Island Way to visit a Publix supermarket. Many Sand Key residents now merely walk across the street to use these services, and all collected city taxes stay in Clearwater.

Sand Key was planned to be a residential community. Feb, 19, almost 400 Sand Key residents attended the Community Development Board's hearing. I believe this is the first step in the zoning process. Testimony was given from the residents and the attorney representing the applicant. After about four hours, a motion was made to deny the application. A vote was taken and a 3-3 tie was the result. After hearing the overwhelming testimony in favor of denial, it was amazing that three members of that board voted "no."

As a resident, neither I nor the large majority of Sand Key residents are against development. We realize the need for tourism revenue and we would support a Neighborhood Community Overlay District much like Island Estates enjoys. We don't oppose the plans to improve tourism in Clearwater Beach.

Simply put, Sand Key residents do not want to change the character of our residential community. And that is what it was planned to be — not a tourist destination.

Yes, today may well be a defining moment for both the Sand Key residents and the City Council. It could be defining for the residents by being able to keep and protect the nature of a residential neighborhood with an offer to develop a plan for the future. And maybe even more important, it could be a defining moment for our City Council. A denial of the "T" zoning application on the property now occupied by the Shoppes on Sand Key would make a statement that our City Council does listen to the citizens and taxpayers.

Frank Van Dyke, vice president, SB I Condo Association

Shoppes is source for all our goods

I, along with the residents and homeowners of Sand Key, am vehemently opposed to the rezoning of the Sand Key Shoppes to a "T" or tourist designation. Such a designation would certainly guarantee the elimination of the shopping center, because the "best land use" tax policy would render the existing operation financially unfeasible.

The shops are our only local source for goods and services and were an important consideration in our decision to purchase a residence on Sand Key.

The expansion of the Marriott, or the construction of another hotel in the Sand Key Shoppes location, will create additional challenges to the residents of the Grande and Meridian condominiums.

Most of the hotel guests will be from out of state and not as familiar with the concept of condominiums. Since the Marriott has public access, they assume we do as well. Their guests will want to visit the beach, and after being turned away by our security, will do so down the access path between Meridian and Landmark. Whatever litter they leave behind, discarded toys and other beach paraphernalia, sand piles and holes, will be our responsibility to clean up, remove and rake out. On their return from the gulf, they often decide to push through our natural fence and try to use our pool and spa because it's "less crowded."

Should the Shoppes be rezoned, and the Sheraton and Marriott hotels expand to the proposed standards, there would be about 3,000 available hotel rooms, hosting an ever changing transient population of more than 6,000 persons on only 23 acres, while the residential population of Sand Key only numbers about 4,500 and occupies the remaining 90 acres at a density of 27 units per acre.

This would effectively turn Sand Key from a residential neighborhood into a burgeoning tourist-dominated, commercial entity. How can that not detract from the quality of life, the overall appearance of the north end of Sand Key, and the lifestyle and property values of Grande and Meridian, as well as the rest of the island?

No one has the right to inflict this upon us.

Today there is tremendous concern for the welfare and habitat of dolphins, manatee, sea turtles — all types of mammals, reptiles, birds and fish. Why is there so little concern for the habitat of human beings? People who have spent years working, providing, saving and planning are entitled to a safe and quiet refuge at some point in their lives.

For use of this habitat, the 4,500 residents of Sand Key pay about $31,514,494 in property taxes annually. Isn't that enough revenue generated from a tiny island whose residents put practically no load on city services? We give so much, but take away so little. Do not surrender our habitat to the rapacity of developers who seek to deprive us of it.

Decline the "T" zoning application for the Shoppes, and do not permit a population density increase of any kind on Sand Key. We will support you in this action in any way we can.

Robert Tarsin, Clearwater

Sand Key needs overlay district

We bought our home on Sand Key because of the residential nature of this community, complete with our quaint but convenient retail component, the Shoppes on Sand Key. We'd like to maintain the residential nature of our community, along with thousands of our neighbors.

The shops have provided the entire Sand Key community with amenities that will be lost if tourist zoning is approved. Along with that loss will be greatly increased traffic, construction congestion, decreased property values and much increased beach noise.

We respectfully ask the City Council to work with our residents to produce a Neighborhood Community Overlay District for Sand Key. This was done successfully for Island Estates and the Coachman Ridge neighborhood. It can be done for Sand Key and thereby preserve the residential nature of our community.

Jim and Jane Strenski, Clearwater

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North Pinellas letters: Deny 'T' zoning of Sand Key land 03/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 11:12am]
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