Safety Harbor City Commission renews building height discussion tonight

It may be a new year, but the Safety Harbor City Commission will continue to talk about an old issue – reducing the maximum building height in a small section of downtown – at tonight’s first meeting of 2019.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Here is the link to the agenda, with additional material, known as “backup,” available via the hyperlink on each item: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1660.

New buildings constructed in the Community Town Center zoning designation would be capped at 35 feet tall unless developers adhere to an acceptable design, if a compromise discussed on Oct. 1 is eventually approved. (Scott Long)

At at least three meetings in 2018, Commission discussed a suggestion from Commissioner Nancy Besore to reduce the maximum building height in the Community Town Center zone, which is a small area immediately to the west of the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, from 45 feet to 35 feet. The change also would affect two other small areas downtown, known as Traditional Neighborhood District 1, or TND-1 for short. While Commission has seemingly agreed that buildings in these areas should be no higher than three stories, there has been constant disagreement over what the maximum height should be. Besore has been adamant that it be 35 feet to match the rest of downtown, while Mayor Joe Ayoub has made a number of suggestions to allow developers to build higher depending upon how the building looks.

Tonight’s revised draft language takes into account some of the suggestions that Commissioners discussed in December, allowing developers to seek a waiver to build to 40 feet if they include design enhancements including, but not limited to, second-story residential, pedestrian arcades, larger front and side setbacks and upper story stepbacks.

City staff is looking for additional direction on the new draft language tonight. If Commissioners can come to an agreement, the draft language would begin process expected to take up to eight months before the changes are implemented.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA …

Allowing mechanical equipment in secondary front yards: This is a proposed 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. A change to city code in 2009 forbids this equipment in front yards, but residents who have corner lots technically have two front yards, even though most people would consider the second front yard a side yard. The city’s Planning & Zoning Board unanimously recommended approval, as long as the screening is one foot higher than the equipment and no higher than six feet.

Sign waiver request: The owners of Copperheads Taphouse, soon to be called Troubled Waters Brewing, have requested a waiver to install a sign on the roof of the pitched porch in front of their business at 670 Main St. Roof signs are prohibited under city code.

Lien reduction request: The owners of 133 North Bay Hills Blvd. are requesting a 100 percent reduction in a lien imposed on their property for a fencing issue. City staff says the violation was minor, and recommends that Commission reduce the $4,458.99 lien to $425 to cover administrative fees.

Approval of renewal of Penny for Pinellas and appointment of a city representative: This is the third renewal of the city’s participation in the sales tax surcharge known more commonly as Penny for Pinellas. The cities of Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs rotate a member on the Joint Review Committee, and Safety Harbor is next up for a two-year term. City Manager Matthew Spoor has volunteered to represent Safety Harbor.

Consent agenda: Items expected to have little debate, such as approval of the last meeting’s minutes and most contracts, are included en masse in the consent agenda, though any Commissioner can ask for any item to be considered separately. This meeting’s consent agenda includes the purchase of new mowers for the Parks Division.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Attend the meeting: The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 750 Main St. Meetings typically run from 1.5 to three hours. Residents are given the opportunity to speak on all agenda items, except for presentations and consent agenda items. Come forward when asked by the mayor, state your name and address, and you’ll be given three minutes to address the Commission. For any issues not on the agenda, or any item that is on the consent agenda, residents get three minutes to speak at the beginning of the meeting during “Audience to be Heard.”  

Watch from home: Meetings are live-streamed to the city’s website at http://cityofsafetyharbor.com/557/Streaming-Media. The following day, a video of the meeting is posted for residents to watch.

Contact your Commissioners in advance by leaving them a message at City Hall at (727) 724-1555 or emailing them:

Mayor Joe Ayoub – jayoub@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Vice Mayor Carlos Diaz – cdiaz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Cliff Merz – cmerz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Andy Zodrow – azodrow@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Nancy Besore – nbesore@cityofsafetyharbor.com

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