City Commission votes 3-2 to deny medical complex
Going against the recommendations of the city’s Technical Review Committee and Planning & Zoning Board, the Safety Harbor City Commission voted 3-2 at its Aug. 5 meeting to deny a site plan for a proposed medical arts complex at the corner of State Roads 580 and 590.
After a lengthy discussion during the quasi-judicial hearing, which mimics aspects of a courtroom process, including the applicant, city staff and anyone who proves they have “affected party” status being sworn in, providing evidence and cross-examining witnesses, Commissioner Andy Zodrow made a motion to deny the application based on compatibility with surrounding uses and traffic concerns. Vice Mayor Cliff Merz and Commissioner Nancy Besore voted with Zodrow, while Mayor Joe Ayoub and Commissioner Carlos Diaz voted against the denial.
Much of the discussion focused on the number of trees that will be cut down for the project, as well as concerns about increased traffic on State Road 590/Philippe Parkway and those cars turning in and out of the complex.
The city’s staff report showed 114 trees on the property, of which 67 are protected species under city code and 47 that are not. Of the 67 that are protected species, 23 were deemed hazardous and in need of being cut down. The applicant had agreed to replace 23 of the 53 trees needing to be replaced, and paying $5,766.60 into the city’s tree fund for the remainder. During the hearing, Zodrow advocated for some of the hazardous trees to remain and said a number of the trees in the calculation were on adjoining property, so the applicant was only keeping five protected trees.
Neighbors of the La Playa Estates subdivision, which is across the street from the proposed project, were concerned about traffic issues and whether the driveway to the complex could be built elsewhere to make it more safe for residents.
An Institute of Traffic Engineers estimate showed the complex would generate an additional 766 daily trips, with 61 of them in the peak morning traffic hours and 76 in the peak afternoon traffic hours. Prior to the meeting, the applicant, 9 Guys Realty LLC, and City Engineer John Powell met with Florida Department of Transportation officials, who said an access point on State Road 580 was not possible and the proposed entry on State Road 590 was the best possible place for it.
While this was the one and only hearing before the Commission for the site plan, the issue may not be settled. While a number of residents spoke against the site plan, Commissioners were bound to make their decision based solely on “competent substantial evidence” presented by witnesses during the hearing. Since the project met all city codes and approval was recommended by the Technical Review Committee and Planning & Zoning Board, the applicant could challenge the reasons for the decision and sue the city if it believes those reasons were not proper.
OTHER ACTION TAKEN
Public art pieces: Commission voted 5-0 to approve the artists recommended by the city’s Public Art Committee to create art pieces to honor local business owner Brady Fisher and philanthropist George Weiss. Clayton Swartz will create the art to honor Fisher at the Safety Harbor Community Center, and Gus and Lina Ocamposilva will create the art to honor Weiss at Baranoff Park.
Waiver request: Commission voted 5-0 to grant a waiver to the property owner of 226 Third St. N to reduce the back setback from 20 feet to 5 feet and the front setback of the second story from 20 feet to 15 feet when the house is renovated. A third waiver request concerning the maximum lot coverage was not addressed as there was a mistake in the public noticing, and will be considered at a future Commission meeting after the public is notified of the correct numbers.
Updates to code enforcement and open burning regulations: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve eight changes to the city’s code enforcement regulations, including ones involving recreational vehicles, open burning, inoperative vehicles and abandoned structures.
Candidate notifications: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve posting a note about election qualifying on the city’s website 30 days before qualifying begins, as well as in a newspaper and on social media.
Firefighter swearing-in: Zachary J. Simon was sworn in as a firefighter/paramedic.
Code amendment discussion delayed: With the meeting running late and few audience members remaining, Commission agreed to push a discussion of additional code amendments to a future meeting.
MISSED THE MEETING?
Watch the video of it on the city’s website here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2147
7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19.
Our city commission has refused to allow a modest medical office building at the corner of SR 590 and SR 580 on a property the city has zoned commercial. Our city commission has done this this with no valid legal reason at all. If the city commission won’t approve this modest proposal, I can’t image any other commercial building that would ever get our city commission’s approval at this location.
It appears that the city has stripped all of the development rights from this commercial property and has left the property owner with only the obligation to maintain the property and to pay property taxes. This is an illegal “taking” of property rights under the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution. This was a terrible decision for the rights of all property owners in Safety Harbor. This loss of a property owner’s rights should greatly concern all residential property owners as their rights to develop their property could be next.
Spoken like someone who has never risked their own money to create something. I’ll dumb it down so you can see why people do and SHOULD lose their shit over this. .
City says “ If you want to build on your land, you must do A, B, C, and D”
Developer spends $75,000 to do A, B, C and D over 9 months. Meets all codes and conditions.
City says “ Thank you for doing Everything we asked and spending all that money….. but we are still not going to let you build. Even though it’s a medical office that will take care of the health of our city’s growing and aging population. Maybe they are holding out for someone to build a strip joint on that property.
I meant the idiots who cheer on this decision
Has there ever been a development in this city that no one loses their shit over? I mean my Goodness people.
Thank you Zodrow, Merz and Besore for speaking up for the local residents. I can’t think of any positive outcomes for the surrounding area if a commercial building was put on the corner of 580 & Philippe.
David, Our commissioners are obligated to follow the law and this property owner had an absolute right to build a small medical office building on the corner of SR 590 and SR 580. This property met all city codes and required no zoning changes or variances. Our City Engineer John Powell and Florida Department of Transportation officials also determined that all safety requirements were met with this proposal. I would bet that you would feel differently about this issue if our city commission denied your right to build on your property and the laws were clear that you had a right to build.
It is hard to believe that our city commission voted against allowing a small medical office building that met all city codes, required no zoning changes or variances, and whose approval was recommended by Safety Harbor’s Technical Review Committee and Planning & Zoning Board. The City of Safety Harbor will most likely be sued for improperly denying this commercial property owner his right to develop his property. The city will almost certainly lose this case in the state courts and we taxpayers will be stuck paying all the expensive legal bills for no good reason.
It concerns me that there appears to be a growing hostility among a certain percentage of our city residents towards our commercial property owners and their property rights. We saw this animosity recently with the Bay to Bay properties being built in our downtown, with the extended stay hotel on Enterprise Rd, with the height limitation debate in our CTC district, and in this proposal for a modest medical office building on SR 590.
Unfortunately, this vocal public animosity at our commission meetings and P & Z meetings sends a bad message to our business community. Business people who want to build their business and invest their money in Safety Harbor should be encouraged and not condemned. Our commercial businesses are an integral part our community and the taxes they pay help to subsidize our residential taxes and help to support our schools, parks, library, museum, etc. Our city commissioners need to think more seriously about the importance of our business community before voting and they need to follow our state and local laws and not deny any more business owners their property rights without a valid legal justification.