ST. PETERSBURG — The Great Driveway Flap has been resolved — almost.
After some confusion, the city's Development Review Commission agreed Wednesday that Larry and Dana Cremo can park in their new $15,000 driveway as long as they remove a small portion close to city-owned property.
"I feel absolutely terrific,'' Cremo, a former Navy and Delta Airlines pilot said after the hearing. "It's a compromise but I've always been open to a compromise.''
As part of a major home renovation, the Cremos installed what actually is a parking pad made of pavers in front of their house on Beach Drive in the Old Northeast. They had been parking there for several months when an inspector cited them in January for violating codes by putting in what the city claimed was an illegal driveway.
At Wednesday's hearing, the Cremos sought an after-the-fact variance to use their front parking area. Things got off to a tense start because of a city staff report that indicated — incorrectly — that the couple also sought approval to extend the pad/driveway to Beach Drive.
“No! No! No!” Cremo told the commissioners. "We never, ever acted to connect to Beach Drive.''
The Cremos' architect, Jim Bedinghaus, said the site plans he initially drew up showed the paved area extending across city land to Beach Drive. But after a zoning official said the Cremos would need a variance to do that, Bedinghaus revised the plans to keep the parking pad entirely on their property. Those revised plans were okayed, he said.
"The signed and sealed construction documents are the ones to go by,'' he told commissioners. "Everything shown in the drawings involving the site plans was approved by the city.''
Those drawings, however, could not be located Wednesday.
"What concerns me is that nobody can produce the drawing that was approved,'' Commissioner John Barie said. "It blows apart the notion that we have an orderly process here.''
Commissioner chairman Matt Walker, a professional engineer, said he understood the Cremos' frustration at being cited for a code violation after a city official said they did not need a variance.
"When city staff tells us we can do something, we depend on that,'' he said. Walker added that many other houses along Beach Drive have driveways that extend to the street.
"You're not approving anything that's going to stand out,'' he told other commissioners.
After it was pointed out to them, the Cremos acknowledged that their pad was installed closer than allowed to city land. They agreed to remove about 60 square feet of pavers to comply with code.
"We'll take it out and be able to park, which was the whole objective,'' Cremo said.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.