Home / Government / City Commission votes to remove planning chairman

City Commission votes to remove planning chairman


The Safety Harbor City Commission voted 3-2 Monday night to remove Planning & Zoning Board Chairman Victor Curti from the board, acting again on an item that was not on the agenda, and delayed choosing members of the new Diversity Advisory Board until its next meeting.

It was the fourth meeting in a row that Commission has made votes on controversial topics in the Audience to be Heard or Commissioner Reports portions of the meeting, which bookend scheduled agenda items and allow for citizens and Commissioners to discuss whatever they wish. Commissioner Andy Zodrow raised the issue during his Commissioner Report, making a motion to remove Curti after the chairman appeared in a photo in a since-deleted Facebook post made by Curti’s husband that Curti described to Commission as political satire highlighting hypocrisy in local political discussions. The photo was taken in front of the home of Shelly Schellenberg, administrator of the Saving Safety Harbor Facebook page.

Vice Mayor Cliff Merz and Commissioner Carlos Diaz said they preferred to have the discussion take place at a future meeting under an agenda item, but Mayor Joe Ayoub called for a vote well after 11 p.m., and Curti was dismissed with Zodrow, Merz and Commissioner Nancy Besore voting in favor, and Ayoub and Diaz opposed. Diaz said his opposition was purely because he did not believe Commission should be acting on the matter during Commissioner Reports.


Commission put off until its next meeting choosing the seven members who will serve on the new Diversity Advisory Board. Ayoub began the discussion by suggesting Commission have a process for ensuring diversity on the board, rather than the usual approach with city advisory boards of individual Commissioners making one or more motions to approve members, with perhaps slotting a certain number of spots on the board for different races to help try to ensure diversity.

Commissioners agreed to submit to City Manager Matthew Spoor a ranking of their top seven candidates on Aug. 28, with Spoor to produce a spreadsheet scoring the applicants based on those lists to help aid Commission’s decision-making at the Sept. 9 Commission meeting. City Attorney Nikki Day advised Commission that each Commissioner’s ranking list will need to be read aloud during that meeting.

In a separate action, Commission voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution clarifying the city’s stance on signage on city property, the result of two weeks worth of votes on Black Lives Matter signs that were put in front of City Hall and the Safety Harbor Public Library before being replaced by Safety Harbor Stands United signs.

Commission voted 3-2 to approve rezoning 367 Grand Central Ave., shown in pale yellow in this City of Safety Harbor zoning map, from Single-Family Residential (R-1) to Conditional Mix Residential (R-3) to match the other properties on its block.


Commission spent a considerable amount of time debating a request from Frank Vassallo to change the zoning for his property from Single-Family Residential (R-1) to Conditional Mix Residential (R-3), which would make it consistent with the zoning of all other properties on the block. The city’s Technical Review Committee had no issues with the request and the Planning & Zoning Board had recommended approval, but Zodrow and Besore raised concerns about the additional possible uses for the property with the rezoning change and that properties across the street were zoned differently. R-3 properties allow additional “conditional uses,” which property owners need to get permission from Commission to do if they wish.

The applicant’s architect told Commission his client would like to make an addition to the existing single-family house on the property, which is what is called “legal non-conforming,” which means it doesn’t match current zoning. A change to R-3 would bring the house closer to being in compliance with setbacks, which are allowed to be five feet closer to the road in the front and a half a foot closer to the road on the sides as an R-3 property rather than a R-1 property

City staff told Commission the applicant was seeking only a zoning change, not a change to the Future Land Use designation, and that the zoning change would not materially change the density allowed on the property. Spoor reminded Commission that their decision on the individual case needed to be made on the evidence presented, and if Commission wished to make changes to the R-3 zoning designation, that could be done in the future.

Zodrow made a motion, seconded by Besore, to deny the zoning change, without citing one of the specific reasons for denial required by law. After Day prompted him to elaborate, he cited that it was incompatible with existing uses in the area, with Besore agreeing. That motion failed 3–2, with Ayoub, Merz and Diaz voting against it. A second motion to approve the rezoning was approved 3-2, with Zodrow and Besore against it.


Ordinances or changes to city code require two hearings before the City Commission. 

Impervious surface ratio changes: Commission voted 5-0 in two separate votes on second and final reading to make language on “impervious surface ratios,” or ISRs, which is the amount of land that can be covered by concrete and other materials that water can’t penetrate, conform with Pinellas County language.  

Comprehensive Plan glossary update: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve changes to definitions in the city’s Comprehensive Plan to be consistent with the city’s Land Development Code. 

Election qualifying period: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve qualifying dates of Dec. 7-14 for the 2021 city elections. 


Street resurfacing contract: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a $591,079.51 contract with Asphalt Paving Systems Inc. to do street resurfacing.  

Budget amendments: Commission voted 5-0 to approve transfers between city funds that included money received from the city’s insurer for a theft at a public facility, an approved marketing campaign for the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce and a street resurfacing project. 

Christopher Palmieri Employee of the Quarter: All city employees were honored as the Employees of the Quarter after dealing with COVID challenges.


Watch a video of it on the city’s website here: https://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2275


7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9. (This meeting is being held on a Wednesday instead of the normal Monday in observance of Labor Day). 


  1. no one pays attention to these posts you get so worked up about. adults ignore children throwing tantrums. you, your husband and everyone else mentioned in this feed need to grow up and act like adults. ignore pathetic children like Shelley and Tanja.

  2. In Ms Schellenbergs complaint she states the post was intended to harass and embarrass her. Sadly, though not surprisingly, she misses the point. The feeling we were going for was not embarrassment, but EMPATHY. We were hoping this might demonstrate what it was like to have someone post about legally cutting a tree, when you have every right as a property owner to do so. How might it make a new resident feel to see their house on FB, even before they move in? Or how her FB posts about the trees and owls, encouraged her followers to drive by the new proud homeowner, role down their window and yell “you are ruining our town, you should leave.” Shelly Schellenberg and her FB page has shown no empathy in her own actions, but how swiftly she attacks when she herself is the subject of her own scorn. This is the hypocrisy and lack of integrity that we are addressing here and have exposed in the past. And that is the real reason Ms Schellenberg, her core followers, Commissioner Zodrow, and Tanja Vidovic hold a vendetta against us. And for Andy Zodrow and our leaders to allow their personal vendettas to waste our time and city tax dollars is shameful.
    So I can say yes, Ms Schellenberg, we were trying to get you to feel…

  3. I am embarrassed that we didn’t foresee that the same five people with the vendetta against my husband would exploit his participation in my post, and subject the city to the political game that ensued. I am not at all embarrassed by the post. I believe that SH property owners have the right to legally maintain trees on their private property. Shelley Schellenberg has repeatedly used social media harassment to try to deny property owners this same right. The post satirically used the format of her harassing posts to shine a light on the hypocrisy that she was now enjoying this right herself. Do as I say, not as I do. A couple things to keep in mind. If you view the post, it’s pretty tough to miss the text at the top which clarifies that we wholeheartedly support the right of anyone to legally maintain their own trees. The format was meant to mimic Ms Schellenberg’s posts where she usually shows people with signs to “save the trees” and the infamous Owl she claimed was displaced from Iron Age St. Her harassment has brought new residents to tears and even resulted in one of her likeminded followers to leave dog poop in the living room of the newly built home where a tree came down. Is it OK for Ms Schellenberg to cut down a tree if no one sees her do it. Because according to her FB page, its not OK for anyone else to cut down a tree even when it is legal and according to code. This was the reason for the post. The hypocrisy is ridiculous, and the false concern displayed by commissioners Zodrow and Besore, that we were actually implying that she has no right to cut down the tree, was all part of the coordinated attack to finally get Vic off of the board. Commissioner Zodrow has been against Vic being on the board from the start, voting no at his initial appointment. Ms Schellenberg and her five most vocal supporters have continued to strike out at Vic and the entire P&Z board for the past three years all because of a political and personal vendetta.

  4. You know there are a thousand different kernels of “truth” that can be made into a political football. Andy Zodrow’s rusty roof is still as rusty as ever although I believe multiple complaints have been filed. Is this corruption? Is he using his power within the city to get special treatment? Someone could start next week with a petition of 50 people demanding he be removed from the board of commissioners. They could have 6 people submit letters claiming that it is a flagrant misuse of power. They could coordinate with a friendly commissioner and come up with a scheme of how to force the issue to a vote or to consume multiple meetings with a well orchestrated over-dramatized charade. Or maybe someone could file a complaint that Andy parks his personal car across the sidewalk in the city right of way just about every day. I think that’s against our code. or that Tanja, Kelly, Jarine, Sharon and Shelley all have planted trees in the city right of way which is also, I believe, against our code. Part of being a leader is to identify what issues should be allowed to become a focus and what issues are clearly a political charade. I believe most tax payers are incredibly disappointed that the commission didn’t take this ridiculous issue and just say we have better things to focus on. In case you didn’t notice we are in a pandemic, we are losing significant state tax funding, we are dealing with issues of race and equality and we need to be smart about what we spend our time on. When Scott Long posted that he is running for commission because we need to have an adult in the room, it could not have rung clearer for me. Commissioner Zodrow & Besore and Tanja Vidovic should be called out for putting political jockeying in front of the community’s needs. Commissioner Merz should be smarter – he has basically given them the green light to continue these kind of ridiculous antics and encouraging others to get in the game since, obviously, it works. Stop allowing the charade. Demand better for our community. Vote Andy and Nancy out and please, never let Tanja get the keys to our city. We need some adults in the room.

  5. If Victor Curti can be removed from the Planning and Zoning Board for standing in front of Shelly Schellenberg’s house with a sign that says Shelly is a hypocrite, then Tanja Vidovic should be prohibited from being appointed to any City of Safety Harbor advisory board or being in any city government position like a City Commissioner or Mayor.

    With the upcoming March election, this may become a major issue in the near future. After Tanja was defeated during the last mayoral election, Tanja stated that she intended to run for office again. Therefore, acceptable codes of conduct will have to be applied equally to everybody including her. It is important to note that Tanja’s past actions were far worse than anything Victor Curti has been accused of doing.

    During the past two years in Safety Harbor, Ms. Vidovic had to be physically removed from Philippe Park by a Pinellas County Sheriff as she tried to prevent park employees from doing their job, she also threatened our City Arborist Art Finn’s job at a meeting with him. She was even fired from her part-time position with Safety Harbor’s Leisure Services Department for intimidating a fellow city employee. Ms. Vidovic’s next door neighbor also had to call the police for protection because Tanja continually harassed her, and Tanja even attempted to intimidate workers who were removing trees to create the new Baranoff Park.

    Tanja Vidovic should be treated in the same manner that Victor Curti was treated at the past City Commission meeting. If Tanja’s inappropriate conduct would not allow her to serve on any City of Safety Harbor advisory board, then she should also not be allowed to serve in any city government position like a City Commissioner or Mayor.

    • Again, you’re not telling the whole story. Keep your OPINIONS on your facebook page. This should be an unbiased report, not yellow journalism or fake news

      • The comments section on the Safety Harbor Connect was created for people to express their opinions. That is why it exists. It appears that you don’t want people to hear the truth about Tanja’s past in Safety Harbor where she has threatened and harassed many people and has done things much worse than Victor did by holding up a sign stating that Shelly Schellenberg is a hypocrite.

        Tanja’s police reports and City of Safety Harbor termination letter are available online to read and they verify everything that I have said. It appears that you don’t respect people’s Freedom of Speech very much.

      • My facts are absolutely correct. Your police reports and City of Safety Harbor termination letter don’t lie and they verify everything I said. If anyone is interested in checking out the facts I stated, these documents can easily be found online.

  6. Joe C, Your comment is factually wrong. Shelly served on Code Enforcement from 2012 until she resigned in 2017. I served on that board with her. In fact, the CE members did NOT review or rule on ANY Iron Age tree case. With regards to the motion to remove Victor Curti during commissioner reports– this is exactly the same procedure that the commission used recently to remove both Frances and Jonathan from their volunteer positions. The difference is that both Victor and Shelly were both on the Zoom call and both were able to express their side of the incident. The decision was made AFTER the commission considered all the FACTS. The City Attorney specifically approved the process in Victor’s case as well.

    • Since they may be of interest to other folks in general, rather than do this individually could they get posted/linked somewhere publicly available? Thanks

  7. It was so disappointing to see Commissioner Zodrow not put this important issue on the regular Commission agenda where everyone could see it and come to speak on the topic. He instead waited until the commission reports at the end of the meeting (about 11:00 p.m.) to make his motion to remove Vic Curti from the P & Z Board. This was done to make sure that almost nobody was watching what he was doing and also to avoid giving Vic Curti a proper hearing on his removal.

    It is especially ironic to see Commissioner Zodrow attack Mr. Curti because he held up a sign highlighting Shelly Schellenberg’s hypocrisy of attacking anyone in town who tries to take down any tree on their property. Shelly even recently used her Facebook page to criticize the owners of the corner lot on SR 580 and SR 590 for considering the removal of a non-native Monkey Puzzle Tree.

    Commissioner Zodrow’s actions are ironic because only a few years ago, he vehemently defended Shelly Schellenberg who was improperly using her membership on the Code Enforcement Board to attack property owners on Iron Age Street who legally removed trees on their property. Mr. Zodrow forcefully argued then that despite Shelly Schellenberg’s actions and misuse of her Code Enforcement Board position, she should not be removed from the Code Enforcement Board. It appears now that because the complaint is against Mr. Curti, who does not support Commissioner Zodrow, he made his late night motion to remove Mr. Curti from the Planning and Zoning Board to make sure few people were watching.

  8. Is there somewhere (preferably not requiring a FB account) one can find the photo in question? If our elected officials are making actual decisions based on this photo it would be helpful to be able to see it and judge for ourselves.

  9. What a sad day for the Harbor. I’m so disappointed with the three Commissioners who are giving into what they consider their base, After all the nastiness, that happened during this last election, it seems Victor is the sacrificial pig. Be wary, your turn is coming, vipers have a way of turning on their own!

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