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Developer defends restaurant plans

Re: "Once and for all, reject restaurant," Oct. 23 editorial.

You ignored facts that run counter to points you wanted to substantiate. Obviously, your paper is opposed to the concept of a new restaurant on property in Safety Harbor. Your opposition comes as no surprise, because you consistently oppose entrepreneurship, but it is unfair for you to make misleading statements like:

"It (the restaurant) is too big for the property." The property is zoned for public use, which means that a 26,000-square-foot building is permitted on the property. Why is a 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot building too big for the property?

". . .there is no site plan yet for this project, and therefore no definitive study of parking and traffic impact." Two separate studies show that the restaurant would have little or no impact on traffic at Bayshore Boulevard and Main Street. Any problems there now are a combination of rush hour and the construction on McMullen-Booth Road. Peak restaurant traffic does not occur during rush hour.

"This photograph omits power lines, signs, the parking lot and parked cars." Have you ever heard of underground utilities? We have every intent of seeing that the final design for this property includes them. As for the parking lot, your reporter was given a full site plan showing how much of the property would be occupied by the building and by parking, but instead you chose to run a cropped picture that makes the building appear larger.

"It (the restaurant) would block the view of the marina and Tampa Bay from Bayshore Boulevard." If you drive Bayshore, you would know that Tampa Bay is not visible now. As for the marina, if the view is so good, why is there a growing crime problem characterized by vandalism and theft from boats? At least a restaurant would create more activity and lighting.

In addition, you seem to allege something sinister by me when you say that by "computer manipulation" a photograph of a beautiful building was placed on a photograph of the site. We hired a professional architect to do a computer placement _ if that's manipulation, that's what computers do _ of a building the size of our proposed restaurant on the site. It is unknown to us whether the architect chose a photograph of an existing building. We have freely admitted that the eventual design might not look like this computer "manipulation."

No construction can start until a site plan and building design are approved by city staff. We have no intent of proposing anything that would not be a signature for the southern entrance to Safety Harbor.

Finally, in regard to previous statements by me that purchase of this site by the city (for parkland) would cost $700 for every resident of Safety Harbor, I was estimating a combination of purchase price, city development of the property either for parking or other public use, and lost revenue by taking the property and its potential off the tax rolls.

I guess the bottom line is that anyone who knows me knows that I have the best interests of Safety Harbor in mind, and I think what I am proposing _ a land use amendment to allow a waterfront restaurant of 10,000 to 12,000 square feet _ would be good for our city.

Walter J. Loick, Safety Harbor

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