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Help make city more livable, lovable

(ran Beach edition)

The last time this beach considered a vision for its future, a planning consultant asked this question:

Is St. Pete Beach a residential community that attracts tourism, or is it a tourist community where people happen to live?

A new team of consultants that will begin hosting community meetings this week thinks it has an answer. Pete Sechler, a senior associate with Orlando planning consultant Glatting Jackson, says that if St. Pete Beach makes itself a nice place to live, the tourists will follow.

"We will have probably two or three different lenses that we want to look at the community with," Sechler said when he presented the master plan goals to the City Commission. "One is, how we can retain what's good about this place? Another is how can we identify how to revitalize or repair or enhance what's there? Also, reurbanization-redevelopment of properties that have lived out their life or have something detrimental that prevents them from being a benefit to the community."

The work on improving the beach's livability begins this week with a series of workshops, each focusing on a different section of St. Pete Beach.

For about $150,000, the city hired Glatting Jackson to continue a process started last year with a small series of visioning meetings. This time, St. Pete Beach hopes to attract even more residents and business people to the sessions.

And Glatting Jackson, in conjunction with other consultants that focus on everything from real estate to architecture to infrastructure, also will meet individually with property owners, developers, residents and others who have particular stakes in areas slated for redevelopment.

St. Pete Beach will focus on three sections of the city for the master plan: Blind Pass Road, Corey Avenue and Gulf Boulevard. Pass-a-Grille will not be included in the master plan, but a community meeting will be held there next week where residents can share their concerns about the neighborhood and their ideas for preserving its unique character.

Glatting Jackson hopes to deliver a final master plan to the city in June.

The fact that the master plan could be finished in three months has not delayed the City Commission's plans to approve new land development regulations in April. The regulations, which affect everything from how much landscaping businesses must plant to how far from the street property owners must build their homes, have been in the works for more than 18 months.

Some residents are urging the city to adopt a master plan before changing the land development regulations. They think the master plan could affect the land development regulations, so their approval should be stalled.

City Manager Mike Bonfield said the city has already removed from the land development regulations any rules that could be affected by the master plan.

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