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Commission denies bid to expand Jamaica Inn

Reversing their decision of nearly a year ago, commissioners Thursday night denied owner Peter Kreuziger's request to expand the Jamaica Inn Motel. The 3-2 margin was the same as the margin last July to allow Kreuziger to add 32 rooms to the motel at 150 Marina Plaza. The two commissioners elected since then, John Doglione and Mary Bonner, voted against it.

"We all want the downtown to move forward, but it has to be correct," Bonner said. "The citizens of Dunedin will pick up the bill if it's not."

Commissioners last year approved a preliminary site plan to add a five-story, 50-foot-high addition to the motel that would cost more than $1-million. The debate focused more on the city's commitment to downtown redevelopment than the merits of having a larger hotel. Mayor Manuel Koutsourais, commissoners Tom Anderson and Bob Barber voted for the site plan. Commissioners Paul Braun and Mary Melton voted against. Melton and Barber are no longer on the commission.

Before coming to the commission Thursday for final approval, Kreuziger had to reposition the building to include a 25-foot setback, a 40-foot right of way on Victoria Drive and expanded parking. He fulfilled those requests, so commissioners had no choice but to approve the expansion, said City Attorney John Hubbard.

But some residents of Victoria Drive who attended the meeting said that the 40-foot right of way belonged to them and that they didn't want the motel to expand.

William Kimpton, an attorney representing the owner of Sun Blest apartments next to the Jamaica Inn, said his clients had continuously objected to the expansion.

"There's an aggressive attitude to create development, but it's going too far. There's confusion" about who owns the right of way, he said.

Several residents commended Kreuziger for wanting to add on to his motel during tough economic times. A bigger place for tourists will mean a boost for the local economy, they said. Anderson and Koutsourais echoed those comments.

"The expansion is an attractive asset. It's an increased tax base," said Paul Engelhardt, chairman of a subcommittee of the Community Redevelopment Agency advisory board. "It'd like to see Dunedin become pro-growth. Let's not see Dunedin become another St. Petersburg."

But Braun, Bonner and Doglione said although they favored downtown development, the right-of-way issue was too confusing to decide in favor of Kreuziger's request.

R. Carlton Ward, Kreuziger's attorney, said commissioners should have addressed those concerns last year, at the preliminary stage. He said he would discuss with Kreuziger whether to sue the city.

"We've spent $120,000 meeting the requirements," he said after the meeting. "There was nothing brought up tonight that wasn't brought up last year."