CLEARWATER - During Monday's City Council Work Session, Michael Delk, Clearwater's Planning Director, introduced a set of revisions to the City's Community Development Code. "The Code is a dynamic document," he said, adding that the ordinance started with about 30 amendments and "it's now 53". Delk added that there is already a growing list of changes planned for the next round of code revisions.
Gina Clayton, Clearwater's Director of Long Range Planning, summarized the changes that represented major policy issues. The first involved an increase in the minimum parking requirements for attached dwellings from 1.5 spaces to 2 spaces per unit in all but the Downtown district.
Several proposed condo projects on Island Estates having only 1.5 spaces per unit were recently approved over the objections of neighboring property owners and the Island Estates Civic Association.
Frank Dame, President of the Island Estates Civic Association, said of this revision, "It's a step in the right direction, but it doesn't provide for guest parking or service vehicles." Dame was also concerned that any project meeting the City's residential infill criteria "can do just about anything they want, including going below the new minimum of 2 spaces per unit."
Responding to concerns of local business owners, another amendment would impose a distance requirement between temporary seasonal businesses and permanent businesses that sell the same type of products. The Planning Department proposed that distance at 500-feet, but Mayor Frank Hibbard opined that 500 feet was not enough and suggested between 750 and 1000 feet. A separate provision of the code revision ordinance would impose a $250 fee for a temporary use permit for seasonal sales; no fees were collected from such businesses in the past.
Sharon Gibbons, proprietor of Sharon Flowers on Drew Street, welcomes the distancing of temporary sales operations. Her business was negatively impacted last year by a temporary plant and flower stand set up across Drew Street in a vacant lot under a huge tent. Gibbons said, "Their signage exceeded what I can have under City code, and people assumed it was my stand." The temporary business, Gibbons added, operated during her peak-selling season, between Easter and Mother's Day.
Gibbons also testified at the Community Development Board hearing on the proposed code revisions on Tuesday, November 15th. Encouraging the board to recommend a 1000-foot distance, she said, "Christmas is coming and if I see Poinsettias there (across Drew Street) I'll absolutely have a stroke." Board member Alex Plisko agreed, and convinced his colleagues to recommend the 1000-foot limit to the City Council.
The CDB, who act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on legislative issues, weighed-in on two other proposed amendments during their November 14th meeting. They recommended that a building's roof could be used for amenities like gazebos as long as the building's overall height remained within the height limit in that district, and that a proposal to restrict the use of comprehensive infill incentives be re-examined and deferred to a future code revision cycle.
The Code Revision Ordinance was heard during the City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 15th, and the outcome was not known in time to be included in this week's edition of the Gazette.
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