Commission Decision Paves Way For Harbor Pointe Village Project

A developer plans to build six single-family homes on this half-acre parcel in downtown Safety Harbor.

A developer plans to build six single-family homes on this half-acre parcel in downtown Safety Harbor.

The Safety Harbor City Commission approved a major site plan modification for the Harbor Pointe Village project on Monday night that paves the way for a detached subdivision to be built in the downtown district.

The unanimous decision means developer Mark Maconi of Harbour Place, LLC can move forward with his plans to build six single-family homes on a half-acre parcel of land located at the corner of Iron Age Street and Second Street South.

Maconi had been seeking a modification from the current zoning, which called for two quad-unit townhomes to be built on the property.

“The applicant, Harbour Place, LLC, is seeking to convert the two, quad-unit townhome buildings into a six lot, single-family detached subdivision,” Community Development Director Matt McLachlan told the commission.

“Staff finds the request is consistent with the goals, objectives and policies contained in the city’s comprehensive plan…for the community redevelopment district. The Planning & Zoning board voted 6-1 in favor of the request, and staff is recommending approval of the request.”

Officials believe the new development is a better fit for the vision of the downtown district.

Instead of two large, box-like buildings with a central courtyard and short driveways as the previous plan called for, the new subdivision will have longer driveway leading to a two-car garage out back, with vehicle access to be transferred to the seldom used Second Avenue South instead of Iron Age Street.

The two-story homes will range in size from 2,800 – 3,000 square feet and are expected to be priced somewhere in the $500,000 range. They will sit on 42-foot by 83-foot lots – roughly 3,500-square feet – with 10-foot setbacks between the north and south property lines.

The new plan also represents a 25-percent decrease in density on the property.

But a major concern for some residents and city officials is the potential removal of trees on the parcel.

While the current site plan allows for the removal of all but one tree, and none of the trees fall under the city’s Grand Tree Ordinance, Maconi said he would incorporate the preservation of trees into the development whenever possible while adhering to the county’s requirement of having two trees per lot, including replantings.

The City also got him to agree to increase the size of the replanted trees to 3.5” – 4.0” in diameter, to work to preserve two additional trees, and to attempt to preserve any other trees deemed feasible by the city’s arborist.

But those guarantees weren’t enough for one commissioner who puts a high priority on preserving the community’s leafiest assets; Nancy Besore wanted to know who would be on site to make sure no accidents happened.

“When it comes down to day-to-day construction, who will be our eyes on the ground looking after these trees?” she asked. “Who will be our person watching the bulldozer driver and the construction situation?”

McLachlan said a certified arborist will be on site during construction, but admitted sometimes accidents do take place on construction sites.

“I can’t promise you a contractor won’t violate that preservation plan when we’re not looking,” he said. “We can’t prevent all wrongdoing.”

But Maconi assured the commission that preserving trees is a high priority, as they serve to enhance the value, and beauty, of the lots.

“I have no intention of having any runaway bulldozers,” he said, adding that special building techniques will be used on one lots to ensure a tree’s root system will be saved.

“A great, grand tree has a great value to us, as well as the environmental impact that we want to preserve. It adds great value to the property.”

With no public comments heard on the issue, the commission agreed to approve the site plan modification by a vote of 5-0.

Per the agreement, Maconi has up to one year to begin construction of the project, although he is not expected to wait that long to start developing the property.

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