INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The discussion took on the complication of a dialogue between Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein on quantum physics, but in the end Indian Rocks Beach commissioners apparently agreed to work on the language of an initiative designed to move ahead on a project on the 2500 block of Gulf Boulevard.
The development would include a Publix super market and condominiums along with parking.
Tuesday night the commission discussed the language of a citizens initiative petition that was instigated by those who favor the development.
Commission members questioned closely Christopher Torres, a lawyer both for the petitioners and for A.G. Armstrong, the developer.
He rebutted the assertions of Andy Salzman, the city’s lawyer, that the petition language was faulty in respect to meeting the legal requirements.
Salzman said that the petition did not seem to confine itself to a single subject, that the language was vague, that it referred to a planned unit development that did not conform with the city’s comprehensive plan.
Torres stressed that in gathering signatures for the petition the emphasis was put on exactly what the plan was in putting the development at that location.
There were many options, Salzman said. Torres said that he and those he represented were willing to work with the city on the language of the petition.
The commission could not unilaterally change the language of the petition, but if the two sides agreed on modifications in the wording then it would become the city’s petition on the referendum.
A vote cannot take place any earlier than next March.
Here is the language of the petition as it presently reads - “Do you approve the rezoning of the city block between Gulf Boulevard, 1st Street, 25th Avenue and 26th Avenue to a planned unit development and granting variances and other approvals necessary to construct a multi-use, three-story building consisting of no more than a street level grocery of 30,065 square feet with 29 ground level parking spaces and loading zone, second level parking for 119 vehicles, and 24 condominium units on the third level?”
The City Commission had scheduled for discussion the referendum at its meeting September 13 but then pulled it from the agenda, scheduling a special meeting September 19 instead. Then the city canceled the September 19 meeting.
Discussion of this project has been in the works for months.
The commission was barred from considering the development project on the city’s north end because of a law suit that was filed in May by a city resident, Ricardo Alvarez. The action, which names the city and the developer as defendants, asks that the Circuit Court reverse a variance granted by the commission.
Alvarez contends in his suit that the project is not lawful at that site. Actually, the city never gave any approval for anything except a signal that it would discuss it.
Last fall, Armstrong applied for a variance to allow a planned unit development would consist of a supermarket, retail stores and condominiums. In January, IRB’s Board of Adjustment took up the variance request and after a hearing recommended that the variance be denied.
The following month, an appeal of that decision was taken to the City Commission with a recommendation from the city staff that the variance be denied.
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