Charter Committee Wants Removal of Restrictions on Open Space/Recreation Land
The public's use of the public beach, city parks, and recreation areas of the City of Clearwater will be endangered by a proposal from the Charter Review Committee. These areas, and more are zoned Open Space/Recreation. Currently the Clearwater Charter does not allow them to be either sold, or leased, without a referendum of the people. The Charter Review Committee would like to change that. Among the proposals they will present to the City Council is one which will "eliminate the referendum requirement on transfer of city property identified as open space." They would, instead, require a unanimous vote of the City Council members (all five of them).
The Committee believes this will give the Council more power to develop open space in the city by eliminating the need to ask permission from the people.
This, and other recommendations of the Charter Review Committee will have to be accepted by the City Council and then placed on referendum for the approval of the voters before it becomes law.
The public is invited to a public hearing on all of the committee's recommendations on Tuesday, September 11, at 6 p.m. in the Clearwater Main Library at 100 North Osceola Street.
There has been much talk about changes at the Clearwater Marina, possibly by selling or leasing the Marina property to a developer to build a parking garage and a motel on the site. The developer would also operate the marina. In convincing the State Legislature to amend the Memorial Causeway deed, the city's representative, Ed Hooper, told the legislators that no change could be made to the Marina without a referendum, because it is zoned open space. Now the Charter Review Committee has recommended that restriction be removed.
If approved, the proposed charter change would open the way for the face of Clearwater to change drastically, removing access to the water and reducing the amount of green space in the city. The Beach Recreation Center land would be open to development, as would the entire public beach, from Clearwater Point on South Clearwater Beach to Somerset Street on the north.
A proposal "to eliminate restrictions on Coachman Park enhancements" is also on the agenda of the Charter Review Committee. Currently only open space and recreation are allowed there unless the people approve any changes by referendum. In past years proposals for Coachman Park have included a seven- story hotel, a large concert venue and various other commercial activities, all of them rejected by the citizens. Present rules allow it to be developed as an attractive and useful park without a referendum.
Citizens interested in addressing these two recommendations and others proposed by the Charter Review Committee are urged to attend the public hearing on Tuesday.
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