Home / Business / Safety Harbor City Commission to consider building moratorium

Safety Harbor City Commission to consider building moratorium


The Safety Harbor City Commission finally reached consensus on draft language that will limit the height of new buildings in the city’s most intense commercial district to 35 feet, but a new wrinkle emerged at Monday’s meeting – consideration of a building moratorium while that change works its way through a lengthy path to final approval.

After months of discussion, including new ideas being floated and dismissed on Monday, Commissioners ultimately decided to ask city staff to draft a change to the city’s Downtown Master Plan that would limit new buildings in the Community Town Center, or CTC, and Traditional Neighborhood Development 1, or TND-1, zoning areas to 35 feet, down from the current 45 feet. However, the language includes a number of suggestions to developers for design enhancements that could help them secure a waiver to build as high as 40 feet. That list includes, but is not limited to, second-story residential units, pedestrian arcades, larger front and side setbacks and upper story stepbacks.

Those changes are expected to take between six and nine months, as the proposal will get hearings not only in front of City Commission, but also the city’s Planning & Zoning Board and Pinellas County entities, including the County Commission.

In the meantime, developers wishing to build to the current 45 feet could do so if they get a site plan approved before the lower heights are officially adopted. That chance spurred some residents who spoke at the meeting, and later Commissioners Nancy Besore and Andy Zodrow, to push for a building moratorium in the affected zones until the change is official. Commission agreed to consider a moratorium on buildings in the affected areas that are proposed to be more than three stories and/or higher than 35 feet.

The proposed moratorium will go before the Planning & Zoning Board in February and then two hearings before City Commission before taking effect, if approved. That process is expected to take until the end of March, still giving the owners of the handful of undeveloped properties in the affected areas a chance to get a site plan approved. However, it’s not expected that any of those owners have any plans to build 45-foot buildings, so the moratorium – if ultimately approved – is, from a practical standpoint, likely to serve more as an insurance policy.


Allowing mechanical equipment in secondary front yards: Commission voted 5-0 on first reading to approve a change to the city’s Comprehensive Zoning and Land Development Code that would allow residents to keep mechanical equipment, such as propane tanks and generators, in a secondary front yard if they are behind opaque screening.

This is a rendering submitted by the owners of Troubled Waters Brewing for what their new sign might look like. Commission voted 5-0 to approve a waiver allowing them to install the sign on the roof of their front porch. (Commission meeting agenda materials)

Sign waiver request: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a waiver allowing the owners of Copperheads Taphouse, soon to be called Troubled Waters Brewing, to install a sign on the roof of the pitched porch in front of their business at 670 Main St.

Lien reduction request: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a lien reduction for the owners of 133 North Bay Hills Blvd. from $4,458.99 to $425 to cover administrative fees.

Approval of renewal of Penny for Pinellas and appointment of a city representative: Commission voted 5-0 to renew its participation in the sales tax surcharge known more commonly as Penny for Pinellas and to appoint City Manager Matthew Spoor as the city’s representative on the Joint Review Committee.


Watch the video of the regular City Commission meeting it on the city’s website here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2062.


7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22. The rare Tuesday meeting is because City Hall will be closed on Jan. 21 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


  1. Seems pretty backward to be discouraging and even banning development in the city like this. While every other city, town, and CDP in the Tampa Bay area is clamoring to entice developers to bring shiny new buildings and breathe new life into their downtown areas, Safety Harbor is taking legislative action to put a stop to the “bUiLdInG bOoM” of two whole buildings, both of which are in the area specifically designated for the city’s biggest developments and are guaranteed to bring more foot traffic to currently lifeless downtown. But this comes as no surprise; Safety Harbor is a backward city. The only person who seems to be interested in the city’s future is Mayor Ayoub, while commissioners like Andy Zodrow and Nancy Besore wish to simply prevent and/or erase objectively positive change in their pursuit of some past version of Safety Harbor that never existed. I can only assume the building height reduction and moratorium arose because someone had a nightmare in which people walked up and down the sidewalks of Main Street on days that weren’t 3rd Friday (the horror!). What else could the motive be? There’s little chance of anyone trying to build anything 45 feet tall in the few remaining lots (not that 45 feet is in any way unreasonable in ANY city), so I suspect they really just want to kill any momentum that may have existed in the short string of new developments.

  2. Has the City of Safety Harbor obtained a legal opinion about imposing a building moratorium that will affect certain downtown property owner’s building and development rights? Imposing this building moratorium may be considered by the Florida courts to be an unconstitutional taking of the owners’ property value and development rights, requiring just compensation to the individual property owners.

    If the city adopts a building moratorium, it will probably invite multiple lawsuits by the property owners against the City of Safety Harbor. Even if the city prevails in the court case, defending this type of lawsuit could be very costly for the city. I believe that a building moratorium will also bring a lot of negative publicity to our city. The City of Safety Harbor should proceed with great caution if it intends to impose any type of building moratorium in the city.

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