Safety Harbor City Commission to work toward renewable energy

More than a dozen residents followed Bryan Beckman of the Suncoast Sierra Club in urging the Safety Harbor City Commission Monday night to join the Sierra Club’s nationwide Ready for 100 campaign, which has a goal of signing up as many cities as possible to establish a deadline and goals for using 100 percent clean renewable energy.

The Ready for 100 campaign has set a goal of having the entire United States using nothing but renewable energy by 2050, and Beckman’s presentation to Commission included updates on how St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Dunedin, three local cities who have made the pledge, are progressing.

Commission asked City Manager Matthew Spoor to draft an ordinance to join the campaign and to start a conversation on setting goals to meet the deadline. After the meeting, Spoor shared with Safety Harbor Connect the city’s progress on shifting all lighting to energy-efficient LED:

  • Ninety percent of city facility lights have been replaced with LED fixtures and, with few exceptions, all city-owned street lights and sidewalk bollards, including the ones recently installed at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, are now LED.
  • Money in the city’s current budget will be used to switch to LED the parking bollards on 2nd Street and Jefferson Street, exterior of the marina restrooms and Gazebo, Rigsby Center, Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center and the rest of Safety Harbor Public Library.
  • The Safety Harbor Community Park ballfield lights will be switched to LED when the lights when the lights need to be replaced next.
  • Duke Energy has upgraded all street lights it owns in Safety Harbor to LED more than a year ago.

BARANOFF PARK PROPOSAL

Commission voted 5-0 to approve a modified idea for the new passive Baranoff Park on the recently acquired land between the Baranoff Oak Tree and Main Street, as well as a transfer of funds from the city’s Community Redevelopment District budget to pay for the nearly $170,000 park. Philanthropist George Weiss and the Kiwanis Club of Safety Harbor have donated a total of $25,000 toward the cost.

The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board had unanimously recommended a plan that included  a water fountain, pervious walkways, picnic tables, bench swings, a concrete lounger area, public art piece, bollard lighting, dog waste bag station, a Little Free Library and fencing.

Commissioners asked that an artistic bike rack be added to the plan, with a contest held to design it, and a dog-water station. Also, for now, they deleted the concrete lounger area. Spoor said that was one of the two elements of the park that Weiss was most looking forward to, and Commission said that if Weiss objected to their removal, that they will be added back.

DOWNTOWN BUILDING HEIGHTS

The issue that has dominated this Commission’s time together might be finally headed toward permanent consensus after Commission agreed to a slightly modified plan for the maximum height of buildings in the city’s Community Town Center zone.

After feedback gleaned from Commission at its previous meeting, city staff presented a draft ordinance lowering the maximum height in that mostly-developed zone from 45 feet to 35 feet, with an automatic approval for a developer to build to 40 if they include three of seven desired architectural features in their application, including second-story residential that is stepped back farther than the first story, pedestrian arcade or awnings at street level, exterior balconies on top floors, front setback of an additional five feet beyond what is allowed by code, side setback of an additional three feet beyond what is allowed by code and varied rooflines. Otherwise, developers would need to negotiate a development agreement with the Commission to build higher than 35 feet.

Commission agreed on two changes to the draft – developers would need to include four of the seven for the automatic height extension and a minimum balcony coverage was added in addition to the existing maximum coverage. The agreement means the eight- to nine-month process of amending the city’s Downtown Master Plan and Land Development Code to make the changes official can proceed on schedule. Had Commission not come to an agreement on Monday, the process would have been delayed by two months. Here are the upcoming public hearings on the proposal:

  • June 12: Downtown Redevelopment Board public hearing
  • July 15: Community Redevelopment Agency resolution adoption and City Commission ordinance adoption on first reading
  • To be determined: Forward Pinellas public hearing, Pinellas County Commission public hearing and City Commission ordinance adoption on second reading.

OTHER ACTION TAKEN

Audit Committee meeting: Prior to Monday’s regular meeting, the city’s Audit Committee, which consists of the five Commissioners and two members of the Finance Advisory Committee, met to receive the annual presentation on Final Comprehensive Annual Report, which showed the city in strong financial shape. View that report here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1751.

Living Shoreline contract adjustment: Commission voted 5-0 to approve additional spending for construction of the Living Shoreline at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, which is necessary after higher than expected tides caused damage.

Security camera regulation: Commission asked city staff to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would, to the limited extent city governments can, restrict the placement of security cameras on residential property. The issue is in response to concerns from residents of the Coventry neighborhood about a neighbor’s camera they believe is invading their privacy.

Paddle the Bay special event application: Commission voted to approve the 2020 Paddle the Bay special event.

Finance Advisory Committee appointments: Commission voted 5-0 in three separate votes to reappoint Elizabeth Wadsworth, David Fellows and Christopher Constantine to the committee.

Folly Farm programming update: Recreation Supervisor Autumn Reich made a video presentation on recent programming at the city’s Folly Farm park.

Travel reimbursement: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a travel reimbursement for Vice Mayor Cliff Merz’s recent trip to a Florida League of Cities seminar.

Christopher Steffen was honored by Mayor Joe Ayoub and the rest of the Commissioners. (Kim Nicholls)

Employee of the Quarter presentation: Information technology specialist Christopher Steffen was honored.

Public Works Week: May 19-25 was proclaimed National Public Works Week, and Public Works Director Ray Boler made a presentation on his department’s achievements.  

MISSED THE MEETING?

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=2116.

NEXT MEETING

7 p.m., Monday, June 3.

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