Beach Sand Still a Major Problem in Belleair Beach
By Josh Valone
BELLEAIR BEACH - The City Council wrestled Monday night at its meeting with the crucial issue of beach sand replenishment and decided to have Paul Marino, the city's lawyer, look into the possibility of a hardship plea.
This occurred at the regular meeting, which followed a special meeting that considered possible referendum issues.
On the beach replenishment, the crux of the problem is that under the law in return for having sand on the beach replaced the city must provide adequate public parking.
But there is no space available in the city to meet that demand. Street parking is banned. Condominium areas have refused to make space available. Most of the city is taken up by private residential property.
It is a situation that has been under discussion for months.
Andy Squires of the Pinellas County Department of Environmental Management told the council that the city's request for replacing beach sand had been denied by the state, because of the inadequate parking problem.
He stressed that the city would have to come up with a way to provide public parking near the beach if renourishment was ever going to occur.
Allowing parking alongside the road was considered, but it was unlikely affected residents would ever embrace that idea and, even if they did, there was little chance it would be sufficient to reverse the state's decision.
There appear to be three options, none good. One would be that there would be no replenishment for portions of the beach; have the city pay for it, estimated to be about $175,000, and reimburse the county for the cost.
In a key decision, the council voted unanimously to set for referendum in March a proposal to increase the terms of office for the mayor and council members from two years to three.
Another referendum proposal, to grant citizens an appeal to the City Council from decisions by the Board of Adjustment, failed to gain approval.
The present procedure on any appeal from that board is to go to the Circuit Court.
On a narrow 4-3 vote, the council okayed and will send to referendum a proposal to remove the Public Works Department as a charter entity.
Such a move, if approved by the voters, would pave the way to the possibility of outsourcing work currently being done by public works.
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