Neighbors are objecting to a proposal to build a three-story building at 752 Eldorado Avenue on North Clearwater Beach. They say that a residence, 40-foot plus high, within 10 feet of both Eldorado and the beach end of Bohenia Circle is out of character with the immediate vicinity. The first step in the approval (or non-approval) process was August 12.
The meeting was in a large room at the Clearwater City Hall Annex around a very large table. Planning staff members of the Development Revue Committee were already seated. Representatives of the property owner at 752 Colorado Avenue were invited to sit around the table and neighbors of 752 Colorado were offered chairs along the wall. Since there were more neighbors than chairs some of them were left standing.
Mr. Harry Cline, attorney for the property owner, began the discussion by announcing the applicant was withdrawing his request for all setbacks for a pool at the rear of the house. He also agreed to alter architectural details to keep the house from being identical to the one proposed by another applicant, next door.
Mr. Cline pointed out that "in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard there are twin houses that are revered." He made it clear that the detail changes would be made to accommodate the Clearwater Beach neighbors.
The request for a 7-foot wall along the South property line was changed to 4 feet, instead of the 3-foot standard. In discussion about the reason for the neighbors’ objection to the height of the wall, the architects agreed that, if the 4-foot wall was allowed, the top one-foot might be a decorative iron, or wooden addition to allow for some visibility.
The staff engineer addressed a change of setback on Eldorado from 25 feet to 10 feet. He stated it could be granted only if the location of the driveway and garage was such that a car in the driveway would not overhang the sidewalk. This, according to the architects, could be accomplished by setting the garage back from a second story overhang of the building which would reach to the 15 feet within the setback line.
The applicant’s representatives were given a list of requirements still to be met before a final decision will be made by the director of the Planning Department, based on staff recommendations. On the list was the necessity of "clarifying" the applicant’s statement that the property fulfills the requirements for infill development, without which street-front setbacks must be at least 15 feet. Specifically, the applicant must clarify how development of the parcel is "otherwise impractical without deviations from standard regulations," and how it will "upgrade the immediate vicinity of the property." These are only 2 of the 7 criteria that must be met before a parcel is given infill development status.
Nevertheless, at the end of the meeting, the attorney asked if they could move forward with plans in expectation of approval. One of the staff warned that they would do so at their risk as (in light of the neighbors’ objections) the issue might be appealed to the Community Development Board and the final decision had not yet been made.
Another planning official stated, however, that there was no objection to the south side setback. The request for this variance was based on the number of corner lots along Eldorado where the buildings are set back less than 25 feet from their side lot lines. If both setback variances are approved, it will result in a building, 42 feet high, above the ground, and 10 feet from both the right-of-way of Bohenia Circle which the neighbors use as access to the Gulf of Mexico, and 10 feet from Eldorado.
Although they had been told they would not be allowed to speak, the listening neighbors were asked, several times, to clarify their objections to some of the applicant’s requests.
When the applicant has finished rewriting his application, the Planning Official will make a decision and the neighbors, as well as the applicant, will be promptly notified. Any appeal of the decision to the Community Development Board must be filed within 7 days of the notice.
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