Key Issues Discussed at Sand Key Civic Meeting
By Gina McPherson
The Sand Key Civic Association met on Tuesday October 1. Clearwater City Council members John Doran and George Cretakos attended. Items on the agenda included:
JoEllen Farnham gave an update on the activity taken by Concerned Citizens of Clearwater (CCOC) on its efforts to overturn the City Council’s April 17 vote to change the allowable number of hotel rooms per acre in areas zoned tourist from 50 to 110. CCOC contends that this change allows the Sheraton and Marriott to grow their hotels and that this growth would directly impact the neighboring condominium communities, the Meridian, The Grande and Landmark Towers as well as the rest of Sand Key.
According to Farnham, condominium owners in these three buildings would be affected by the growth of the hotels and have “party status” in any redevelopment plans. They must be notified by the city before the hotels can move forward on redevelopment plans.
Farnham told SKCA that when presented with possible future concept plans given to the organization by the Sheraton and Marriott, 84.5% of owners in those buildings who responded to a survey opposed them. Of those owners, 56% were in favor of going forward with negotiations with the Marriott and the Sheraton, while at the same time trying to reverse the allowed number of hotel rooms per acre back to 50 through a referendum. Owners in these buildings have contributed $20,700 to the cause.
After discussions with the city, CCOC now recommends that a Citizen’s Initiative be pursued to change the number of hotel rooms allowed per acre on Sand Key. Farnham explained, “A referendum (a veto of the Hotel Density Increase Bonus Ordinance) could also cause a veto of the hotel density bonus for Beach By Design. It was never the intention of Sand Key residents to affect changes to Beach by Design so the Referendum is being converted to a Citizen's Initiative. This has two advantages: (1) the Citizen's Initiative can be worded into an Ordinance that will only affect the number of hotel rooms allowed per acre on Sand Key; and (2) there is no time requirement by which to obtain the 6500+ signatures of Clearwater registered voters to put this issue before the Clearwater voters in a special election.”
Farnham says, ”Additional hotel expansion is appropriate for Clearwater Beach but not the island of Sand Key as it is a residential neighborhood.” The SKCA Board approved the donation of $3,000 to this effort.
Cynthia Remley representing Save Our Neighborhoods gave an update on the appeal filed in objection to the Community Development Board’s September 16 decision to approve the hotel application for 1590 Gulf Boulevard including all requested deviations to the city code. Remley explained, “ The appeal contends that the CDB incorrectly approved all of the numerous and significant deviations to the Community Development Code requested by the Belleview Biltmore, LLC to build a 38 room hotel/165 seat restaurant complex on less than one acre of land in the middle of this residential neighborhood on Sand Key. SON contends that the new hotel will reduce the value of 110 neighboring homes by an average of $75,000 each and that the parking lot will not support needs of the planned hotel and restaurant complex.”
The SKCA Board approved a donation of $3,333 to SON to help pay for the legal expenses of this appeal. Remley says that the organization is accepting donations from the community to further fund this appeal and that they currently have 30% of the money needed for this effort.
David Muzio, president of Island Estates Civic Association and Jerry Murphy, president of Clearwater Beach Neighborhood Association attended the meeting. Both men said that they were in support of the efforts of SON and SOS efforts in these areas.
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