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Official wants input on Belcher plan

(ran East, South editions)

Residents affected by the long-planned Belcher Road extension will have another opportunity to speak out next month.

City Council member Bob Kersteen, who represents that area of northwest St. Petersburg, wants to solicit public input before the city takes a stand on the project. Council members are expected to schedule a public hearing on the issue for Aug. 15.

The question is whether four-lane Belcher Road should be extended past 54th Avenue N to 38th Avenue N, a plan that has drawn staunch opposition from some neighbors in the area. The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization will hold its own public hearing on the extension Sept. 11.

The last option would entail extending Belcher along what is now 71st Street, but as three lanes instead of four.

Kersteen has pledged to support whatever the majority of residents want.

"I hope they go for the three lanes," he said, "because that seems like the best of all worlds."