The City Council approved a development agreement for a 202-room hotel on south Clearwater Beach on Wednesday after a prolonged discussion about whether the project would hurt a powerful neighboring property owner's plans.
The vote to approve developer Uday Lele's 14-story hotel, "the Views," was 4 to 1. Vice Mayor Paul Gibson voted against the project, which now heads to the city Community Development Board for final approval.
Lele plans to tear down the six-story, 110-room Wyndham Garden hotel at 691 Gulfview Blvd. to make room for the new tower.
Developers JMC Communities and Ocean Properties own a vacant 4.3-acre parcel next to Lele's site. They asked the council to modify Lele's proposal, saying it would hurt their plans by limiting how much they could build under city code.
They also said "the Views" was ugly. Mayor George Cretekos said Wednesday that characterization of Lele's project was off the mark.
"We're not getting a box here," Cretekos said. "I don't think you can honestly say, 'Oh my God, who approved that?'"
The property next door was once intended as the site for a condo project called Marquesas, but JMC and Ocean Properties haven't yet announced their current plans for it.
Lele's hotel was the first to be reviewed by council under a new approval process for beach projects.
Before the change, the City Council had the final say on large-scale development on the beach. But an uproar among developers after a Hampton Inn proposed for south beach was defeated late led to a change.
Now, the council has a first look at projects during two public hearings. If they sign off, projects get final approval from the Community Development Board and council members don't have any more involvement unless the plans change significantly.
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Services board to get appointees Tuesday
On Tuesday Pinellas County commissioners are scheduled to select their four appointees for the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, a board that oversees the Palm Harbor and East Lake libraries and Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation.
The meeting agenda lists 13 applicants who have qualified. They all reside in either the East Lake Library Services taxing district or the Palm Harbor Community Services district.
In September, commissioners passed an ordinance to change the makeup of PHCSA, which will now include the four Pinellas County Commission appointees as well as one member each from the advisory boards of the two libraries and the rec department.
The first meeting of the revamped PHCSA board will be held Nov. 20 at the Palm Harbor Library.
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Help count the homeless
On any given night, there are more than 6,000 homeless children, families and adults in Pinellas County. A one-day count of homeless people on Jan. 23, 2014, will be used to sustain funding for services to assist them.
Because the count will be completed in a single day, volunteers are needed to assist. Clubs and community groups can volunteer together or individuals can help out. Sponsors are also needed to assist with the cost of the project.
For information on becoming a volunteer or sponsoring the count on Jan. 23, contact Susan Finlaw-Dusseault at (727) 528-5832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board, which organizes the count, go to www.pinellashomeless.org.
Fundraiser to benefit shelter
The Haven of RCS has partnered with local Mary Kay consultants on a fundraiser to benefit domestic violence victims who live at the Clearwater shelter.
The event, set for 6:45 to 9 p.m. Thursday, will feature a silent auction, pampering by beauty experts, food, prizes and information on how citizens can assist the shelter and advocate against domestic violence.
The fundraiser will be held at Mary Kay's training center, 3411 S Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
A portion of proceeds from product purchases will be donated to the Haven. Attendees are also asked to bring flip- flops, new socks, feminine hygiene products, new adult and children's underwear - essentials that will be distributed to shelter residents.
Please RSVP by today to Courtney Taylor at email@example.com or (813) 484-0123.
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Changes to event policy weighed
City commissioners will consider changes to Dunedin's events policy during a public workshop set for 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday at City Hall, 542 Main St.
Several months ago, Dunedin parks and recreation staff were told not to approve any new major, large-scale events without getting the commission's approval.
Staff is now asking elected leaders for guidance on which factors to consider - such as noise, traffic and other impacts on nearby residents - when reviewing future event proposals.
The City Commission will also hear a presentation on Greenlight Pinellas, a penny tax referendum proposal aimed at expanding mass transit throughout the county.
Read documents related to both discussions online at DunedinGov.com.
Archery club offers class for young novices, archers
Registration is open for the city's new Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) program.
Suncoast JOAD is a registered club through USA Archery that meets 10 a.m. to noon Sundays at the Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road. The class is open to people ages 8 to 20.
The aim is to teach archery to young people and help archers enjoy the sport recreationally or progress to competition.
The city will supply all equipment for the course, which will be taught by Ken Drewke, a certified USA Archery instructor with over 40 years' experience as a competitor and coach on the state, national and international levels.
For more information or to register, visit the community center, go online to DunedinGov.com or call (727) 812-4530.