Re: Small Businesses and Property Owners
Being a native of Clearwater, 79-years-old, I have seen many changes in this area. Most disturbing is the lack of encouragement and common sense by Clearwater officials and employees in serving small businesses and property owners. I see so many empty buildings which in the past were thriving places. Reasons for being empty: high taxes, ridiculous city regulations concerning expensive, unnecessary extras such as excessive landscaping, parking requirements and signage.
Most of these businesses cannot afford these extras. Example: young couple trying to locate a Day Care Center across from the Post Office on Belcher Road. They have spent their savings beautifully remodeling the building-zoned general commercial. They should be offered encouragement, but the city is requiring expensive landscaping on property that has not been required on other like properties on Belcher, (and on Missouri Ave. and others) such as the new CVS, Paint Shop, Good Year, Auto Shop, etc., and the beautiful Wonder Bread store. None of which show any sign of the landscaping they are requiring of the Day Care Center.
The city should be thrilled at the wonderful job these people have done on this building. This is selective enforcement. Granted they should be flexible in certain situations. (Only landscaping in east Clearwater is on the mediums which is paid for with tax money and work done with city labor). The Day Care Center's adjoining property on the north is a Veterinary Clinic and on the south is Good Year Tires.
The taxes on the Day Care property are over $8,000 a year, which figures out to almost $700 a month.
The city of Clearwater has changed its requirements so often and they do not enforce the changes on a consistent basis. A new business they hold to the letter, but existing businesses they ignore. Surely there is a better solution somewhere in between. Zoning has always gone with the land, but the city now says that it changes with any new lease or ownership.
With the changes in local economics, housing, banking, etc., the government agencies are all bloated with employees taken in during the recent boom, and now they try to justify their jobs. Also, because of the changes in local economics the city needs to change its attitude from condos, hotels and shopping centers to small businesses where the owners stay here, vote, raise families and pay their taxes.
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