Safety Harbor City Commission began to act Monday night on a difficult decision on how to proceed with the city’s recycling efforts amid dramatically rising costs by voting 5-0 to take curbside collections to the Pinellas County Waste to Energy Plant.
Three residents spoke in favor of the city continuing to take those collections to the City of Clearwater to be recycled. Commissioners who spoke said they understand the difficulty of the decision, with Commissioner Andy Zodrow speaking at length as to how the recyclable material will still largely be converted into something useful – energy – at the Pinellas County plant until a better solution for handling of the recycling materials develops. The vote was the first of two required, with the changes not taking effect until after the second and final reading of the ordinance on Jan. 6.
The issue is a worldwide shortage of buyers for recyclable material. So what use to be free for the city – dropping truckloads of materials collected in curbside green containers off at the City of Clearwater to be eventually processed in Ybor City – now costs $110 per ton. The cost of dropping off solid waste and yard waste at the Pinellas County Waste to Energy Plant also recently increased to nearly $39.75 a ton.
The ordinance approved Monday night would raise resident sanitation bills by 5.25 percent annually to cover the higher costs, while also combining solid waste and recycling costs into one line item on bills. The trash pickup schedule will remain unchanged, and residents will still be encouraged to use their green cans for recycling in hopes that the city can again in the future resume recycling it as it had been doing. The city will launch a public information campaign so residents understand the changes and why they are happening, and residents who still want their recyclable material transported to the City of Clearwater can do so by dropping it off at the city’s two collection centers – at the Public Works Complex on Railroad Avenue and at Fire Station 53 on McMullen Booth Road.
OTHER ACTION TAKEN
Amend Land Development Code for mobile homes, accessory structures and dwellings, corner lots, alleyways, sidewalks, fence setbacks and maximum lot coverage: Commission voted 5-0 in two separate votes to approve a variety of a code amendment changes on first reading. For the second one, Commission voted to include a proposal from the city’s Planning & Zoning Board to add a one-and-a-half story category for new homes on certain lots, a change significant enough that the ordinance will need to be noticed to the public again with a new first reading to be scheduled.
Code Enforcement lien reduction request: Commission voted 5-0 to reduce the lien on 566 Fifth Ave. N from $118,916.73 to $5,000. An attorney representing the estate of the deceased property owner says a buyer will close on the property within a week and immediately begin cleaning up the property and demolishing the structure so a new one can be built.
Economic Development Liaison responsibilities: Commission voted 5-0 to approve additional stipulations for the city’s volunteer Economic Development Liaison position, currently held by Jonathan Brewer. Those additions include that the EDL will have no supervisory role over city staff, that the EDL will serve as an impartial representative of the city, the EDL will not serve as a board member or director of any group that may cause a conflict of interest and that the EDL will advocate on behalf of business and property owners to improve communication and streamline the development and permitting processes.
Waterfront Park Public Art proposal: Commission voted 5-0 in favor of issuing a Call to Artists under the parameters suggested by the Public Art Committee for the creation and installation of one or more pieces of art at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park.
I Support Veterans benefit concert approval: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a special events request from VeteransPlus Inc. for a benefit concert on Jan. 11 at Harbor Bar that also will use the city’s parking lot on 8th Avenue and close off Main Street from 9th Avenue to 7th Avenue for safety reasons.
Planning & Zoning Board and Board of Appeals appointment: Commission voted 5-0 to appoint Jennifer Sedillo as the alternate member.
Land Use and zoning change for Folly Farms property: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading in two separate votes to approve changing the Future Land Use of a half-acre parcel at 1538 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North that is part of the city’s Folly Farms park to Recreation/Open Space (R/OS) and to change the zoning of the property to Public and Conservation (P).
Land Use and zoning change for new city Public Works property: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading in two separate votes to approve changing the Future Land Use of a 1.74-acre parcel at 2157 Railroad Avenue that will be used to expand the main Public Works complex to Transportation/Utility (T/U) and to change the zoning of the property to Public and Conservation (P).
Annexation request for 2450 Madrid Avenue: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve annexing Candy and Brent Barnhisel’s property with a single-family home into the city.
Employee service recognition: Public Works employee Eric Davis was honored for 30 years of service.
Safety Harbor Wine Festival check presentations: Checks for the proceeds from this year’s festival were awarded to the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation, Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center, Rotary Club of Safety Harbor and Huddle in the Harbor.