Board Recommends Denial Of Sand Key Rezoning
By Anne McKay Garris
The Clearwater Community Development Board, on Tuesday, took up the issue of a controversial rezoning for the property on which the Shoppes Of Sand Key are located. It is the only business zoned property on the island. The Board is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council on the application for rezoning. The property owners have applied for rezoning from "business" to tourist, which would allow the building of a large hotel. They argue that the business designation no longer exists in the Clearwater code and, therefore, the property must be rezoned to either tourist or commercial.
A large portion of the Sand Key residential community has expressed themselves as opposed to the rezoning. Their arguments include the importance of nearby shopping to their quality of life, concern for overcrowding on the island and for increasing problems in case of an evacuation.
Because the hearing of the rezoning was continued from the last meeting of the Board, no further input was allowed at this meeting from either the applicant, or the public. Nevertheless, citizens wearing S.O.S. stickers (for Save Our Shoppes) crowded the audience and listened attentively.
Board member Frank Dame reiterated his reasons for making a motion for denial at the last meeting. He recommended denial, he said, because the rezoning change was not in character with the community; it included an increase in density on the island; it conflicts with the needs of the community and it conflicts with the already non-conforming evacuation standards.
New member, Richard Adelson, an architect, asked if it would be possible to approve the tourist zoning with the requirement that any hotel built on the site should provide retail space for shops that would serve the community, not just hotel guests. Several other members protested that it would be too soon to talk about specific uses on the property.
Board member Jordan Behar, also an architect, pointed out that the tourist zoning doesn't encourage retail use. Dame added the information that commercial zoning limits height to 50 feet, but tourist zoning allows 100.
The vote was 4 to 2 in favor of recommending denial of the application for tourist zoning on the property. Opposed to the motion were board members Norma Carlough and Dana Tallman. Board Chairman Nicholas Fritsch, a resident of Sand Key, reclused himself from both the discussion and the vote as required by law.
The City Council will address the issue tonight at their regular meeting. They are not bound by the Community Development Board's recommendation.
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