Home / Government / Safety Harbor City Commission pauses decision on proposed hotel

Safety Harbor City Commission pauses decision on proposed hotel


The Safety Harbor City Commission pushed the “pause” button on a hearing at its July 16 meeting over a land-use change necessary for a Candlewood Suites hotel to be built at Oakbrook Plaza so it could get more information.

The quasi-judicial hearing, which went so long that two unrelated agenda items were delayed to a future meeting, included testimony from city staff, the applicant and several “affected parties” who are opposed to the hotel. When it was determined that information necessary to make a decision wasn’t available, the Commission finished all aspects of the hearing but voted unanimously to postpone a vote until its Aug. 20 meeting.

KOS Corp., the long-time owner of the shopping center at the southwest corner of McMullen Booth Road and Enterprise Drive, wants to build a Candlewood Suites on the same footprint as a building on the northwest corner of the property that previously housed offices and restaurants. City Commission in 2014 voted to permit hotels as an allowable use on the land, so long as the hotel meets certain criteria, but now that KOS is moving forward with its hotel plan, a land-use change request triggered a major site plan modification and the July 16 hearing.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Candlewood Suites hotel in Oakbrook Plaza (KOS Corp.)

Lauren Rubenstein of the St. Petersburg law firm Denhardt and Rubenstein represented the Countrypark Homeowners Association during the hearing, and questioned whether city staff had included the property’s preservation lands in its calculations over how many hotel rooms were permitted. City staff admitted that they had not, and because that information would require a new survey prepared by the applicant in order to make an exact calculation, Commission decided to delay a vote pending that and additional information rather than to make approval conditional on the calculation not changing anything. The application states the hotel will have no more than 72 rooms, but that number could be limited depending upon the new calculation.

Rubenstein also questioned whether the city properly interpreted its code concerning “transient housing,” which is separate in city code from “hotels,” but refers to hotels nonetheless.

Additionally, Clearwater resident Susie Adriance, who led a petition drive and Facebook page opposed to the hotel, and other nearby residents who were granted “affected party” status, questioned whether Enterprise Road is classified as a “signalized arterial” road or a “collector” road. City staff used the 2017 Level of Service Report, prepared by Pinellas County’s metropolitan planning organization Forward Pinellas, that considers Enterprise Road a signalized arterial road as the basis for its determination, but Pinellas County maps still list it as a collector. The difference is key because the city’s land development code says hotels must be located within 300 feet of a signalized arterial road.

Commission will consider the answers and clarifications to those three issues as part of the evidence presented on July 16 when it is expected to make a final decision on Aug. 20.


Because of the length of the Oakbrook Plaza hotel hearing, Commission needed to vote to extend the meeting past 11 p.m. with a “hard stop” of midnight, so at the recommendation of City Manager Matt Spoor, it voted unanimously to delay two agenda items to a future meeting:

Design incentives for builders: Commission previously indicated its support for city staff to recommend a series of design incentives for builders to foster “small town charm.” The Planning & Zoning Board developed a point system that would reward builders with fast-track permit approval or reimbursement of some impact fees depending upon how many “small town charm” items were included in their proposal.

Tree ordinance Land Development Code amendment: Commission previously indicated its support for a number of changes to the city’s tree ordinance suggested by city staff, including the city arborist.


Lawsuit against Florida statute: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a resolution to join with other Florida cities in a lawsuit against a Florida Statute that limits cities’ abilities to regulate firearms.

Main Street improvements contract: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Morelli Landscaping Inc. for just less than $200,000 in improvements to Main Street, which among many other things would include closing off the Main Street entrance to the city-owned parking lot at the corner of 8th Avenue and Main Street, which will result in five parking spaces being built, and building a “pocket park” on the same property.  

Financial advisory services contract: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Public Resources Advisory Group to advise the city on financing the acquisition of $1.4 million in land and $8.6 million in water and sewer projects, and also voted 5-0 to approve resolution to allow the city to move forward with those capital projects and pay for them from future financing.

Zoning assignment: Commission voted 5-0 on first reading to assign the R-2 (single family residential) zoning classification to recently annexed property at 1709 Main St. and at the intersection of Main Street and Pine Avenue.

Code Enforcement Board appointment: Commission voted 5-0 to promote Code Enforcement Board alternate Andy Steingold to a full member and appoint Gisela Bennie as the new alternate.  


Watch the video of it on the city’s website here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2013


7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 7, though a public Budget Workshop for Commissioners to review the proposed 2018-2019 budget is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Monday, July 23. A copy of the proposed budget can be found here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1640


  1. Interesting that this hotel is being built in Countryside area rather than the east side of Mcmullen Rd. closer to homes in Safety Harbor!

  2. People just want to complain. You ever see the Safety Harbor Motel down Sunset
    Pt? What a dump. That’s the small town charm people act like progressives are ruining. Imagine instead of a Candlewood Suites they built a Safety harbor Motel there. Same people complaining

  3. I just don’t get the hysteria over an extended stay hotel in this center. I travel 2 – 3 weeks every month and stay in extended stay hotels. Granted the ones I stay in are not on an “Ulmerton Rd or US 19” area but located in an area comparable to Countryside. They are reserved by professionals who travel and have to stay more than a night or two. I feel safe and patronize the businesses surrounding the hotel. A year from it being built and open I would bet no one will even know it’s there.

  4. There is no character to this hotel…fits right in to the strip mall concept. As I have stated in a previous comment, it is too bad there is no boutique hotel within miles of Safety Harbor. This property is no Four Seasons…lower end of the scale.

    • I disagree with your false characterization of this proposed new hotel. I think that the new hotel is attractive and it has character. It would fit nicely into Oakbrook Plaza and would complement the restaurants, businesses, and retail stores that are located there. Saying that it is a lower end of the scale property because it doesn’t compare to a Four Seasons Hotel is ridiculous. As the hotel developers explained during the P & Z Board meeting, the nightly room rates will be between $110 and $165.00 plus taxes. This price would be affordable to most tourists and business people visiting our area who would also have the benefit of a small kitchen included in the room. A Candlewood Suites hotel would be the right hotel at the right location at this plaza.

      • You missed my point….I did not expect to see a Four Seasons. There is not any hotel in the area with any character…When you stay at a hotel paying $110-$165 you are at the lower end on the cost of a hotel. I agree it fits in with the area if that is what they decide to do. It is unfortunate when people come into town or you want a nice boutique hotel to entertain there are no options. Maybe I was lucky my business travel was usually 4 or 5 star…required to entertain clients.

  5. Mary you are right small town charm is gone and your comment about new resident homes just proved it. The attitude toward newcomers is really the sad part

  6. Mary you are so right , the small town charm is gone and your hateful remark about new residents homes just proved it.

  7. Hire some competent staff Mr Spoor. Missing preservation on a property is huge! I wonder what other issues will show up after it is approved and the city just says oops my bad!!


    • The City of Safety Harbor certainly has a very competent staff to deal with land development issues. However, our city is dealing with an unprecedented building boom and many of our city departments are seriously understaffed when you consider all that they are being asked to do. It appears that the failure to calculate the preservation area into the calculations over how many hotel rooms are permitted is simply an oversight and is not “huge”. Matt Spoor and the city staff do an excellent job every day running our city. We can see the results of this as Safety Harbor becomes an increasingly attractive place to live and our home values have never been higher than they are right now.

    • If you are going to criticize hard workers, please use your name. Our city staff works their butts off trying to do what is right for ALL citizens. They follow codes and ordinances even though it may not be a popular decision. Nothing worse than a Monday morning quarterback. Now that’s terrible and not very nice.

  8. I’m sorry? We give INCENTIVES to developers that are profiting on this? Why not dictate what is ACCEPTABLE? Why are the citizens of our town not being informed? Not everyone reads this post and I’m glad I did. And “quasi” blah blah blah shows how subjective this writer is and opinionated. Maybe his motives are not entirely objective? We should not be held hostage by a few for-profit-developers. NO WAY. Let’s set the standards. Sick of the concrete mess. It needs to STOP NOW!

    • What concrete mess? The hotel is being built on the same footprint of the previous office building. Homeowners will benefit from incentives too. What is wrong with that? You sound like you want to build a wall around Safety Harbor and not allow anyone or anything new in.

    • Ricardo,
      I strive very hard to present these columns as objectively and unbiased as possible. My only motives are to make sure residents have a complete understanding of the issues before City Commission. Please let me know what part of this has lead you to believe that I am subjective, opinionated and not entirely objective.

  9. “Paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

    This stuff is exactly why I feel like a rat deserting a sinking ship, and am moving out of the SH area. Just 7 years ago even, it was quaint. We paid a premium in the county to NOT live on top of each other. A tiny bit of ineptitude on the council positions, but nothing so absurd and deep connected as what changed in the few years after and since.

    Now everyone is fighting over who’s best friend contractor gets to put up the ugliest concrete monument, and if you don’t like it you don’t want “progress”, while we smash a hotel onto a road that backs up past two signals through Landmark at one side as DAILY crashes from people trying to get into Publix happen (hey and let’s add even more people who don’t know how to get around on local roads) and past the Youth Ranch on the other, and the city – despite smashing people in at a high ratio wants to make sure that if you all start snarling and their state/federal bump they get from making a new unit or two available to former felons takes a turn, they want to make sure they take away your rights to protect yourself.

    Two weeks, and we’re on the market!

    • The parking lot is already there and paved. I don’t care one way or another if the hotel goes in since the location is more Countryside than Safety Harbor. When moving may I suggest Brooksville or a planned subdivision? If I was you I would post your address. You can save money and not have to get a realtor since homes in Safety Harbor are selling like hot cakes.

    • Mary, Nobody is “paving paradise to put up a parking lot” or adding concrete to put in a new hotel at the Oakbrook Plaza. The steel frame for the hotel already exists and the commercial Oakwood Plaza with its many parking spaces had already existed a long time before you bought your home in this area. It appears that you bought your house near the four commercial plazas alongside Enterprise Rd. and McMullen/Booth Rd. because of the conveniences they offer with the many supermarkets, restaurants, clothing stores, banks, pharmacies, fast food locations, etc. that they have here. A brand new hotel that will be put in a currently ugly steel framed building will only improve Oakwood Plaza and increase the property values of Safety Harbor and the nearby Clearwater neighborhoods. Our area is a tourist location and adding hotel amenities will improve our desirability as a tourist location as well as provide rooms for our many relocating hospital workers. This new hotel will be a win-win for everybody.

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