BELLEAIR -- It appears that the folks who wanted to save the historic Belleview-Biltmore Hotel have succeeded in their mission. They and their adherents showed up in great numbers September 7 at the Belleair Town Hall following a drum-beating campaign to get a turnout
A full page in the local daily newspaper the day before the Belleair Town Commission meeting and signs that festooned Belleair urging peope to help "Save the Belleview-Biltmore" had folks geared for a scrimmage at the commission meeting. But the DeBartolo Corporation which had plans to knock down the queenly old and elegant hotel, once the watering spot for Yankee millionaires, withdrew its scheduled appearance and presentation of "development opportunities" for the hotel early September 6.
That left little to fight about Wednesday evening. Instead, the turnout heard Nancy Stroud present a brilliantly written and airtight preservation ordinance that got a favorable reception from commissioners. They took no action last Wednesday. Stroud's work was a preview, a look-see of what Belleair can do to guarantee the continued life of the hotel. Stroud was hired specifically for matters dealing with the Belleview-Biltmore. Her excellen work, taking 25 pages, will now go to the Historic Preservation Board and the Planning and Zoning Board for a look and then to the commission for a first reading and hearing in October.
The way appears clear to green lights on the first and second readings and enshrinement into the laws of Belleair.
Also attracting attention at the Wednesday meeting which was bifurcated into a special session to review the budget and nail down the millage rate and the budget itself and a hearing on the referendum for the town to form its own electric company, a vote scheduled November 8. The same millage rate -- 4.6389 -- that prevailed in the 2005 fiscal year was adopted that will raise $3,055,500 in ad valorem taxes in the $7,195,000 budget.
Belleair taxpayers will pay about 13.6 more in taxes because of the increase in property values. Tax increases or not are always measured on the bottom line -- if you paid more this year than last on the same property that is, by law, a tax increase. However, the FY2006 budget is about $1.5 million less in expenditures than the current outlay. That was attributed to decreases in capital expenditures chiefly for water and solid waste.
People started to drift in for the meeting about 4.55 p.m. and built to a total of about 200 with many standees at the back of the hall and lining the sidewalls.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition