Clearwater Islands Civic Associations Join Forces
By Anne McKay Garris
After several years of discussions, the Clearwater Beach Association, the Island Estates Civic Association and the Sand Key Civic Association made the first of what they expect to be continuing commitments to work together. All three associations have pledged to contribute to the fund for an attorney's fee to continue Sand Key's fight to retain the commercial zoning on the portion of the island occupied by the Sand Key Shoppes.
In December a vigorous turn-out of citizens persuaded both the Community Development Board and the Clearwater City Council to vote for "commercial" zoning on the site, rather than the "tourist" zoning which would allow another high rise hotel. D.A. Bennett Company, owner of the site appealed the Council's decision, arguing that the Future Land Use designation of the property made "tourist" the only legal zoning for the property. A three-judge appeals panel agreed with the property owner.
Aware of the Sand Key residents' dependence on the Shoppes as the only place on the island where they could purchase basic goods and services, such as banking, real estate, restaurants, barbers and beauticians, the Council appealed the panel's decision to the Second District Court of Appeals.
In support of the city's appeal, the Sand Key residents have hired an attorney to represent their interests, and the three islands civic associations voted contributions to this attorney's fees.
After voting to contribute $2,000 to the attorney's fee to support the appeal, the Sand Key Civic Association, last week, also voted to contribute $2,000 towards the purchase of weather curtains needed at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. The curtains, priced at $20,000, are heavy plastic. They are needed to make the upper part of the new addition to the Center usable in inclement weather.
"We have already lost one possible rental of the upstairs," said Joe Calio, representing the Sailing Center, "because the new, outdoor area was not usable for lack of protection from cold, windy weather." Calio is well known and greatly respected on Sand Key and throughout the sailing community for leading a group of sailing enthusiasts to form a plan to rescue and improve the sailing center at a time when the City was planning to close it for lack of activity. Part of the funding for operation of the Sailing Center comes from rental of the upstairs party and meeting room, now augmented by the new extension.
Introduced at the Sand Key Association meeting, last week, were Jay Keyes, president of the Clearwater Beach Association, and David Muzio, president of the Island Estates Civic Association. Both were on hand to further a plan for the three Clearwater Islands Associations to work together to bring a unified voice to City Hall regarding issues of importance to any one of the communities.
A six member committee is forming with two members from each association. The stated purpose of this committee will be to "give the islands of Clearwater a common voice."
At the close of the Sand Key Association meeting Arnie Shal led a discussion of Penny For Pinellas, explaining that this is money from an extra county-wide sales tax which can be used only for capitol improvements. Clearwater's list includes a new city hall and building the boat slips in Downtown Clearwater, among others.
(Editor's note: Go to www.clearwatergazette.com and vote on which capitol improvements you would like the City Council to eliminate from the current Penny For Pinellas list.)
Return to Current Edition