TARPON SPRINGS — When representatives of a storage facility on Pinellas Avenue sought a conditional use permit approval from the City Commission in June, they were told to try again.
They did, and this time were told no by a divided City Commission.
In June, city staff was recommending the commission reject the request from Public Storage, just south of the city-owned Tarpon Springs Golf Course, for permission to convert 16,000 square feet of unused retail space into a mini storage unit. That use would be incompatible with the city’s plans to develop the Pinellas Avenue corridor, according to Planning and Zoning Director Heather Urwiller.
With Commissioner Townsend Tarapani absent from the June meeting, the commission deadlocked 2-2 on the conditional use request. So another public hearing was scheduled.
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Public Storage project manager Rick McKeever presented a revamped plan last month. These included enhanced frontage and landscaping improvements; a sidewalk complying with Americans with Disabilities Act standards; removal of an unwanted pole sign; and the addition of a covered PSTA bus and Jolley Trolley stop.
“I took a lot of what was said at the last meeting to heart,” McKeever told city officials. “I heard what you said about the vision of the corridor.”
He said the two commercial buildings would be “reconfigured to make them look like coastal cabanas,” which, along with the neighboring property, “would make a very big impact coming into the corridor. It will really ‘pop.’”
Despite praising the efforts of McKeever’s team, the majority of the commission stuck by staff’s recommendation to deny the permit based on the idea that mini-storage is a bad fit for the area.
“I appreciate the applicant changed the design,” Mayor Chris Alahouzos said. “But still, it’s a mini-storage building…. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and that’s what we’d like to see there.”
Ultimately, a motion to approve the request was voted down 3-2. Only Commissioner Connor Donovan joined Rea Sieber in voting yes.