Publix Public Interest?
Dear fellow citizen:
A funny thing happened last Sunday. A stranger knocked on my door and asked me if I was in favor of Citizens Iinitiative 1. I noticed he had an absentee ballot application in his hand, with my name already filled in. When I told him I was opposed, he thanked me and left, taking the ballot application with him.
I'm sure if I had told him I was in favor of the initiative, he would have left it for me to mail in to assure that my yes vote would be counted. For some strange reason, he wasn't interested in my no vote. Hmmm, I wonder who he was working for?
I'm not running for office, and I'm not a politician. (In fact, I dislike most politicians.) I'm not selling anything, but I do have an important message for you about the initiative.
I'm tired of the deception that's being perpetrated on the citizens of Indian Rocks Beach. This initiative is a carefully managed effort to circumvent the laws of this city. The developer is trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and make us like it in the process, I, for one, am not going to take it.
Let's look at some of the claims and the facts:
Claim: This is about having a Publix in Indian Rocks Beach or not having a Publix.
Fact: The developer is free to build a Publix on the site now, as long as he conforms to current zoning regulations. He wants a larger project so he can make more money. And in fact, there is noting in the initiative that would assure a supermarket is built there at all. The developer would be free to build whatever he wants. Have you seen that four story concrete parking garage at John's Pass? Picture that here.
Claim: A Publix will reduce traffic because we won't have to drive off the beach.
Fact: We'll still have to drive, just not as far. Not only that, but a supermarket will create thousands of additional trips made by people outside of this town who would otherwise not drive here. Having a supermarket on Gulf Boulevard will increase traffic in our town tremendously.
Claim: It will be beautiful. Like many of you, I received the lovely artist's rendering of the proposed Publix.
Fact: It's nothing more than a fantasy. Look at the deceptive amount of green space shown in the rendering. Do you really think it's going to look like that? The reality is that the project requires a reduction in the required green space.
Claim: This is a "citizens'" initiative.
Fact: The petition was deceptively worded to fool people into signing it. The only "citizens" behind it are the rich out of town developers. The developer's lawyer has stated that if this passes, the city will have no right to object or prevent anything the developer wants to do with this project as the petition approves "granting variances and other approvals necessary." If they decide to eliminate all the green space, they'll be able to do it and the city will be powerless to stop them.
Even worse, if the initiative is approved, the City Commission will have a hard time not approving every other developer's variance that comes before them. If they don't knuckle under, they'll face endless lawsuits from developers. It will be the beginning of countless condo towers lining Gulf Boulevard. Do you want our town to look like the condo canyon on Sand Key?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. I'm in favor of managed growth. Change is good, but it's not without its costs. Uncontrolled commercial growth will lead to a decline in property values. One only has to look up and down the road to see this. Check the value of homes in Belleair Beach where there's no commercial development vs. Maderia Beach, where commercialism runs unchecked. Which direction do you want our city to go in?
I'm tired of being manipulated by out of town developers, with their telephone canvassing, deceptively worded petitions, and one-side absentee ballot effort.
You and I have to follow the rules. If I want to build an addition on my house, you can bet the city will be telling me how big it can be and what I can do with it. Shouldn't the big money developers have to follow the rules too? Or do we give them a pass and sell our souls to the devil so they can rape the city and we can save five minutes of driving time?
There's only one reason to vote yes for initiative one. If you want to assist rich out of town developers make more money than they otherwise would if they followed the rules that we all have to follow, then by all means vote yes for initiative one.
If you want to preserve our small town way of life for yourself and our family, vote no.
Mark Cramer, Indian Rocks Beach
My name is Allen Goins and I am the president of AC Armstrong Development. My wife and I also own a residence on Indian Rocks Beach.
As you may know, residents will soon be given the opportunity to decide whether or not they want a Publix grocery store in our community. Popular support for the initiative has enabled this question to be on the ballot and decided by the voters. Unfortunately, much misinformation has been circulated about the project in order to defeat its approval. Today I want to assure you that this is a well thought out and expertly planned mixed-use project that will have a very positive impact on the City for years to come.
When you go to the polls on March 14, you will be asked to approve a 30,065 square foot grocery store project with twenty-four (24) condominiums. For the record, my company has agreed to reduce the size of this project even further than that listed on the approved ballot. Accordingly, I again pledge to the residents, as we did publicly in front of the City Commission, that we will construct only a 28,878 square foot Publix grocery store with 12 condominiums. The Publix will be the only retail store on the site. Unfortunately, the official ballot language could not be changed in time to reflect this proposal, but rest assured I will build what I am hereby pledging.
We believe the reduced sized project and our current site plan is consistent with the City's and County's future land use plans and development desires and that it would require few, if any, variances to successfully complete.
On March 14, voters have the opportunity to improve both the appearance of Gulf Blvd. and quality of life for the residents of the community. In addition to increasing tax revenues, the Publix will serve as an anchoring store for all of Indian Rocks Beach's Gulf Boulevard businesses, while providing the convenience of safety of a traditional neighborhood grocery store that is easily accessible to all. Lastly, it is important to understand that this Publix store has been specifically designed to serve Florida shoreline communities like Indian Rocks Beach and it is 25 percent smaller than the smallest standard Publix prototype.
Allen Goins, President, AG Armstrong Development
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition