OLDSMAR — County and water management officials expect construction to start soon on restoring Mobbly Bayou, a project that has been in the works since 2006.
"Tampa Bay is one of the premier estuaries and bays in the state," said Philip Rhinesmith, a Southwest Florida Water Management District senior environmental scientist. "This project really shows the initiative within Pinellas County to restore areas for not only habitat protection but also for recreational use."...
TARPON SPRINGS — For the past month, city officials have been talking about getting rid of a city rule limiting tax increases. But whatever they decide won't change the fact that the rule has been effectively useless since voters approved it nearly 20 years ago.
Why? Because the change in 1995 was in direct conflict with a state law passed in 1973.
And in the ultimate irony, the lawyer who figured out in 2014 that it was illegal was the city attorney who helped craft it in 1995....
TARPON SPRINGS — Dodge ghosts with Ms. Pac-Man and smack pinballs until your fingers go numb, but don't call it an arcade. Visitors won't pay by the quarter at Brian and Becky's Replay Amusement Museum, opening today (Oct. 3).
The historic district storefront features more than 80 arcade games, from the household names to the rarities, as well as 40 vintage pinball machines.
"You play tic-tac-toe only so many times. Pinball is wild," said Brian Cheaney, 36. "You can play 10,000 balls and you're going to get 10,000 different games. That's really our jewel of this place."...
SEMINOLE — Drivers coming to and from Redington Shores and Indian Shores are in for a longer trip as of Sept. 29, when Pinellas County is set to close the Park Boulevard bridge for a month during construction.
The drawbridge will stay open while workers repair and upgrade the machinery underneath so boats can still pass through the waterway, as required by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Penny for Pinellas-funded project will cost $840,972, the county estimates....
Condo owners statewide say they're being forced from their homes by bulk buyers and former Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, was one of few who saw it coming.
"Either I'm onto something, or I'm crazy," he thought of his lone vote in opposition to a 2007 condo law change.
Seven years later, Fitzgerald is far from alone. Legislators, lawyers, the governor and his challenger's campaign recently called for change to protect condo owners....
08/28/14 Real Estate
OLDSMAR —When Nicole Wade moved into a new house on Cypress Bend 14 years ago with her husband and children, a large swath of green space lay beyond their back yard, just outside the confines of the Woods at Forest Lakes community.
One day, Wade figured, a convenience store or gas station might crop up on that land at the intersection of Pine Avenue N and Forest Lakes Boulevard. Instead, the City Council voted to rezone the parcel last year and 26 two-story townhouses are about to rise in her poolside view....
08/28/14 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — Property owners can expect the city's tax rate to stay the same for the fifth consecutive year.
Taxpayers would owe $5.45 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. But many would see larger bills next year because property values in the city in general are rising. Tarpon's increased tax revenue will go toward operating expenses and will also help reduce the city's reliance on reserves, said City Manager Mark LeCouris....
08/27/14 Real Estate
DUNEDIN — Condominium owners at Madison Oaks in Palm Harbor could be the latest to lose their homes because of a 2007 loophole in state law.
Stephanie Krasowski, who started Floridians Against Condo Takeover, and other Madison Oaks residents could lose their deeds and be forced to give up their homes as early as Sept. 5 after a yearlong legal battle. They would join owners of at least 223 condos across Florida who have been forced from their homes, she said....
TARPON SPRINGS — Fire Chief Richard Butcher has heard talk of adding a new fire station north of the Anclote River since he joined the department in 1978.
Thirty-six years later, city commissioners moved forward with plans to open Station 71 on Oct. 1.
For years, Fire Rescue has responded too slowly to emergency calls in that area, Butcher said. Only two bridges in town cross the Anclote, so traffic means it often takes 12 or 13 minutes for firefighters to arrive at a scene. That's well above the 7½-minute average the city must maintain for 90 percent of calls....
William Meredith raised his friend's crossbow for the first time and fired twice. He moved his target back 15 yards and shot again.
This time the bow's string cut through his left thumb, shaving off the top half an inch.
"It was like cutting warm butter," said Meredith, who works in commercial janitorial management in McKinney, Texas.
He vowed never to pick up a crossbow again. He tries not to even look at them....
EAST LAKE — Extra cash is a new phenomenon for East Lake Youth Sports Association. The nonprofit volunteers who once fought to keep up with monthly payments on its fields now eye long-overdue maintenance projects, lower participation fees and a new lacrosse program.
The change in mind-set came last month when the County Commission approved a recreation tax that will generate an estimated $536,850 in revenue for fiscal year 2015....
TARPON SPRINGS — Residents are shocked by the deaths of a locally prominent couple.
Tarpon Springs Cultural Center marketing director Genevieve Crosby was shot by her husband Monday in a murder-suicide, the Sevier County (Tenn.) Sheriff's Office said.
Crosby, 48, and her husband, Richard, 52, were staying with family in a rental cabin near the Smoky Mountains between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, sheriff's spokesman Capt. Jeff McCarter said. Deputies were called there about 11 a.m....
08/07/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — Property owners can expect the city's tax rate to stay the same for the seventh consecutive year, according to the proposed budget. The city has not raised the tax rate in 25 years.
Property owners would still pay $4.05 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. But since property values are projected to rise 7.8 percent overall, many people will see a larger bill.
The proposed budget of $28.7 million would be a 5.7 percent decrease from fiscal year 2014, which ends Sept. 30. The extra $232,000 in property taxes will go toward the city's reserve funds, said Al Braithwaite, Oldsmar's administrative services director....
07/17/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — A yearlong dispute ended at Tuesday night's City Council meeting during a bathroom break.
City Manager Bruce Haddock and Jason Schwabe, who represents Palm Harbor and Oldsmar firefighters at the International Association of Firefighters Local 2980, ended the impasse over pension negotiations for Oldsmar's 13 rank-and-file firefighters.
The city initially wanted to freeze its pension plan for current firefighters and switch them over to the Florida Retirement System. They would keep what they have earned so far, but would have to work several more years than planned before retiring in order to get a pension from the state....
OLDSMAR — The City Council voted Tuesday to allow tattoo and piercing businesses downtown.
"I'm excited," said resident Jillian Langley Santiago, who has been working with the city to open a shop on St. Petersburg Drive E, where she has paid rent on a storefront since February. "I'm ready to open my business. We just have to get our other licensing done and open up.
Previously, an ordinance for the downtown area grouped tattoo and piercing businesses with pawnshops and gun shops, which the original ordinance described as signs of "neighborhood deterioration."...