Shoppes on Sand Key
March 20th is a very important date, for both the Clearwater City Council and for some 4000 residents of Sand Key. On that evening, after hearing testimony from both the applicant and the residents, the Council will vote to approve or deny an application to zone the property with a "T" destination where the Shoppes on Sand Key on Gulf Blvd. are now located. "T" stands for Tourism which means the Shoppes could possibly be demolishd and there could be a 10 story hotel constructed on the property.
If the Council votes to approve this zoning application, it could well be a "defining moment" for the residents of Sand Key. As many as 4000 residents could possibly lose one of the best amenities they have as residents of Sand Key. Unlike what some perceive, all of the residents who live on Sand Key are not wealthy. Many are retired, some retired military, and there are numerous others that live on a fixed income.
The Shoppes on Sand Key provide businesses to do our banking, purchase milk and bread, take our dry cleaning, eat a meal, and get a Dunkin Donut. Several other services are also available. If the Shoppes are destroyed, a 3-4 mile drive would be necessary to go to either Largo, or Island Way to visit a Publix Supermarket. Many Sand Key residents now merely walk across the street to use these services, and all collected city taxes stay in Clearwater.
Sand Key was planned to be a residential community. Last February 19th, almost 400 Sand Key residents attended the Community Development Board's hearing. I believe this is the first step in the zoning process. Testimony was given from the residents and the attorney representing the applicant. After about four hours, a motion was made to deny the application. A vote was taken and a 3-3 tie was the result. After hearing the overwhelming testimony in favor of denial, it was amazing that 3 members of the THAT Board voted "no." They will vote again on March 18 hoping to break the tie, and their recommendation will then go to the City Council for consideration.
As a resident, neither I nor the large majority of Sand Key residents are against development. We realize the need for tourism revenue and we would support a Neighborhood Overlay Plan much like Island Estates enjoys. We don't oppose the plans to improve Tourism in downtown Clearwater Beach. Simply put, Sand Key residents do not want to change the character of our residental community. And that is what is was planned to be....not a tourist destination.
Yes, March 20th may well be a defining moment for both the Sand Key residents and the City Council. It could be defining for the residents by being able to keep and protect the nature of a residential neighborhood with an offer to develop a plan for the future. And maybe. even more important, it could be a defining moment for our City Council. A denial of the "T" zoning application on the property now occupied by the Shoppes on Sand Key would make a statement. That statement would be that our City Council does listen to their citizens and taxpayers. It would say loud and clear, that as a governmental body, they are responsive to the needs of the majority of the people they serve. It certainly would make this writer proud and probably over 4000 other Sand Key residents.
Their denial of this application would be truly a "defining moment" as Dr. Phil would describe it! We wish them well.
- Frank Van Dyke,Vice President, SB I Condo Association, 1400 Gulf Blvd.
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