Sand Key Civic Association Asks For Support
By c.j. pollick
CLEARWATER - As citizens from Clearwater Sand Key filled the meeting room at the Sailing Center on Sand Key Monday evening, it was obvious that something important was on the SKCA meeting agenda.
After the customary Call To Order and Pledge Of Allegiance, the Treasurer's report was read and accepted by the board of directors.
Next Lt. Andrews, from the Clearwater Police Department, reviewed local police service issues such as upcoming Spring Break traffic concerns and pedestrian crosswalk issues on Court Street by the courthouse. Lt. Andrews further explained why beach traffic "just blew-up (during the Outback Bowl weekend) because there was no where to park on Clearwater Beach."
Joe Calio reviewed activities with the Jolley Trolley Corp. and stated that rider-ship had dropped a third and the only thing that helped support needed revenues was private charters. "The Trolley expected about $6,900 in revenues, but only received $4,700 (due to low rider-ship,) but charters helped increase revenues and the bottom line was $12,700 raised."
Calio also stated that he had read that the Cabana Club had not made an application as of this date for development, but the SKCA would follow this project since many nearby SKCA members have concerns about the contemplated re-development of this property.
The next issue on the agenda was why most SKCA members attended the meeting, discussion and update regarding the Shoppes Of Sand Key possible sale and re-development.
After a brief review of the Shoppes of Sand Key issue, SKCA president Mike Dooley introduced SKCA member and attorney JoEllen Farnham who was appointed to help coordinate SKCA efforts in following this potential re-development of on Sand Key.
According to Farnham, who was only recently delegated the task of coordinating efforts to follow this contemplated project, the most important issue at this time for citizens of Sand Key was to sign petitions and attend the Community Development Board public hearing meeting on January 15th, at 1p.m., at Clearwater City Hall. "It is important that as many people attend this meeting as possible, it is the first meeting of three on this matter. Remember, the issue is zoning change at this meeting."
What attorney Farnham explained at the SKCA meeting was the need to address the only issue to be decided by the CDB, whether the Shoppes Of Sand Key should be (re) zoned "C" for commercial activities or "T" for tourism activities. City of Clearwater planners are suggesting a "T" zoning designation for the subject Sand Key property. The "T" zoning designation, if approved, would allow for highrise development as well as other development applications... and that is why Sand Key condominium owners are concerned. "We will lose our condominium value if this happens," said more than one concerned citizen, "We will lose our view," said another citizen, "Don't let them lull us to sleep over this," proclaimed another citizen. "What is really happening, does anyone know?"
Farnham helped to review facts as she knew them, "First, an application was filed by the Marriott development people who have or had an option to buy the Shoppes property from owner Dick Bennett. That purchase option expired. It is understood that the Marriott people believe the option price should be lowered considering the recent lower sale price of the Adams Mark property on Clearwater Beach. Second, re-zoning is needed due to the zoning granted to US Steel and zoning changes made by the City which eliminated "B" zoning and added "T" and "C" zoning. The city is recommending a "T" zone designation be given. Even with purchase option issues between the Marriott and Bennett, the zoning issue will move forward.
The SKCA hired attorney Alan Zimmet to represent them in this matter as well as an expert city planner. The first public hearing on this issue is at 1 p.m., January 15th, with the CDB.
At the end of the summary, several citizens expressed their opinions. One citizen suggested Sand Key work on an "overlay district" much like Island Estates did several years ago, "That might have solved this issue."
Another citizen stated that there is a city election in weeks and perhaps the voters on Sand Key should vote for a candidate based on this issue. "If we lose, we should file petitions with the County to lower our tax appraisal values, I wonder how much that would cost the city!"
One SKCA member reminded everyone that "the CDB meeting is very important and encouraged everyone to attend. We will bus people if necessary, but we should be civil and orderly when we speak."
New officers were elected for 2008 and the meeting was adjourned. The next SKCA meeting will be held February 6, 2008.
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