BELLEAIR BLUFFS – If a company performing the beach replenishment along the Belleair Beach and Indian Rocks Beach coast had been a little less nasty, there might have been a chance the cost of moving equipment would not have cost triple what the company had planned.
Might is the operative word, because property owners in Belleair Shore are loath to have others trespass on their beach over which they proudly assert ownership.
Background – Norfolk Dredging Company is replenishing sand on the beach and needs to move three bulldozers and an excavator from Belleair Beach’s strand south to Indian Rocks Beach.
John Hayes, one of Belleair Shore’s commissioners, approached the project manager of Norfolk, as he tells it, with a mind to discuss Norfolk’s needs.
Hayes, a genial and friendly fellow whose outward conviviality can hide a backbone of steel, was peremptorily told by the Norfolk representative to scram – “get off my property.”
Hayes reacted to this by informing Norfolk and county officials that no heavy equipment (and it is big stuff) was going to cross his property. Not good for Norfolk.
Then, in a letter dated two days before the meeting last week at which Hayes related this turn of events, Nicole Elko, who is the county’s coordinator for the beach replenishment, made a plea for a one-time agreement from the Town of Belleair Shore to allow the passage of the equipment along the beach.
Moving the stuff down Gulf Boulevard, all the way to the Indian Shores line, would cost triple, her letter said.
Because ownership of the beach attaches to individual property owners, the Town Commission could not give a blanket approval.
But it can give a green light to move the equipment along the line below the median high water mark. This would produce, at low tide, a path 40 to 50 feet wide of wet sand.
Discussing this last Wednesday night at their meeting, the commissioners speculated that moving heavy machinery along the beach on wet sand at low tide would run the risk of having the machinery get stuck.
It might make Belleair Shore look like Normandy about six months after D-Day.
“The wet sand is a hazard,” Commissioner Bob Schmidt said. The consensus was to turn down the county’s request.
But Hayes hailed Elko’s efforts. “She did nothing wrong and everything right,” he said.
In other action, the commission decided to regulate short term rentals and limit them to the rules outlined by the county law on residential family zoned areas.
That is, there is a 30-day minimum limit and any lease granter can only do that three times a year which would effectively, and economically, force rentals into at least four month rental times.
Schmidt and Carl Hilton, who were returned to the commission unopposed, were sworn in. Also being retained is Ray Piscitelli who was away.
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