Commission and Citizen Concerns Addressed
By Kari Jo M. Rodgers
LARGO - After reviewing several applications, Bob Murray was elected to former Commissioner Andy Guyette's seat.
Later in the evening, citizen concerns were raised when commissioners discussed approving an amendment that would change land use for an 8.50 acre parcel located at 400 Alternate Keene Road from residential low to residential medium. Main objections by people living in Colonial Village were that doing this would put a major road too close to their mobile home community, and also that traffic and noise levels would increase. Mayor Patricia Gerard responded later by saying that "Eminent Domain is not in the realm of discussion. We are not going to use this to accomplish the project."
Commissioners also agreed that a Pre-Development Loan be given to the Largo Housing Development Corporation for demolition costs of two properties. The loan will not exceed an amount of $55,000.
In other news, citizens will soon be able to get down payment assistance loans that they may use to help purchase a home. This assistance will be provided by an agreement between the Sold On Largo Program and Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services.
Ironically, only one property was approved for the development of affordable housing. Mayor Gerard stated that "Largo has a lot of properties not being used downtown, and further questioned why those properties did not meet state requirements?" According to Manager Matthew P. Anderson and staff, "the answer involves surplus." "To qualify for affordable housing, properties cannot be currently used for something else, nor can properties be designated for future use." Mayor Gerard feels that "this criteria is inappropriate for affordable housing," and commissioners intend to look at and possibly revise the current list of criteria used.
A topic that sparked debate was a proposed agreement to hold city-sponsored events on private property. The agreement would be between the developers of the Largo Towne Center, KB Crossroads, LLC and Weingarten Realty Investors, and the City of Largo. Citizen Jeff Mokely, voiced his opinion that "the ordinance to provide entertainment on a commercial non-city property was backwards." He said that "while commissioners thought it would only cost the city $40,000, it was really an $80,000 project, since things like police services, and utilities would have to be provided for any such events as well." While Commissioner Mary Black agreed, other commissioners felt that doing so would be a win-win situation. Commissioner GiGi Arntzen commented that, "she had spoken to many business owners, who were excited about these future events." Mayor Gerard further commented that it was a "win-win situation, because residents living in the Eastern part of town would no longer have to travel so far to attend city events." She also explained that, "if they were not to participate, equipment would have to be paid for when used in the events." Commissioners voted for the city to participate, and the city will receive extra tax dollars for doing so.
Lastly, commissioners voted to give City Attorney Alan Zimmet a 4 percent increase for services provided.
To learn how Largo will handle these and other important city issues, be sure to stay posted to the Clearwater Gazette.
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