Home / Government / Safety Harbor Commission back to considering 35-foot building height

Safety Harbor Commission back to considering 35-foot building height


When it last discussed the issue, the Safety Harbor City Commission appeared accepting of a compromise to lower building heights in the city’s most intense zoning designation from 45 feet to 40, but after additional discussion at its Oct. 1 meeting, Commission is now looking for a maximum height of 35 feet with design incentives that could allow developers to build to 40 feet.

Monday’s discussion was to give city staff feedback on a proposed resolution and ordinance that would change the city’s Downtown Master Plan for the Community Town Center, or “CTC,” zoning district, which extends a few blocks north, west and south from the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa.

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)

Early on at the Oct. 1 meeting, Commissioner Nancy Besore, who brought up the issue soon after being elected in March, said she had a change of heart on the previous consensus for 40 feet, which was made in recognition of modern construction needs making it difficult to build a three-story mixed-use building in 35 feet. She said she favored going back to her initial suggestion of 35 feet which, while still possible to result in a three-story building, for all intents and purposes would limit future buildings in the Community Town Center to two stories. Commissioners Cliff Merz and Andy Zodrow agreed.  

Mayor Joe Ayoub, who said he was worried that the 35-foot limit would result in developers building buildings that would look like “shoeboxes,” suggested another compromise that would allow developers to build up to 40 feet, but only if they included one or more of a to-be-determined list of design desires that might make the building more visually attractive. Commission appeared to accept that, and city staff will now rewrite the ordinance before bringing it back to Commission for more consideration.

The area in red is the Community Town Center zoning designation, which presently allows buildings as tall as 45 feet. (Commission agenda materials)

Only three undeveloped stretches of land remain in the Community Town Center, and the complicated nature of changing the Downtown Master Plan means any change in maximum height is at least seven months away from being official. Owners of those three stretches of land wanting to build at current heights can do so if their plans are submitted before the Downtown Master Plan is changed. Commission also appeared accepting of “grandfathering” in existing buildings in the Community Town Center at their current heights if those buildings are ever destroyed by fire or natural disaster, but not if the owner merely wants to redevelop it.


Streetlight assessment: Commission voted 5-0 to approve this year’s assessment of $39 per ERU, or “equivalent residential unit,” for city streetlights.

Non-city agency funding requests: Commission voted 5-0 to award Neighborly Care Network, Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center and Paint Your Heart Out Safety Harbor the full amounts requested from this year’s non-city-agency funding request budget of $80,000, and because the total requests submitted came in less than $80,000, to award 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares Inc. an additional $2,500 above what it requested.

This is a rendering of how the Daydreamers Cafe sign will look. (Commission agenda materials).

Sign waiver request: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a waiver of the city’s sign requirements for a sign at Daydreamers Cafe and Grill at 143 7th Avenue North that will extend 46 inches above the roof line.

Sidewalk waiver request: Commission voted 5-0 to grant a partial waiver to Pinellas Property Ventures Inc., which is building three single-family houses on lots on Jesse and Hamilton avenues. City staff had suggested approval of the variance, as not doing so would create isolated sidewalks, but residents who attended the meeting said that while the sidewalk on Hamilton would be isolated initially, future building could eventually connect that sidewalk to Philippe Parkway. The Commission’s vote means the sidewalk must be constructed on Hamilton, but not on Jesse.  

Extension of restrictions in the Coastal High Hazard Area: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading in favor of these changes to the city’s land development code suggested by Forward Pinellas to make them consistent with countywide rules.

Conditional use application for vehicle rental: Commission voted 5-0 to approve a conditional use application so Safety Harbor Industrial Complex could display a maximum of three vehicles for rent at 1600 State Road 590.

Code Enforcement Board appointment: Commission voted 5-0 to elevate alternate Gisela Bennie to a full member and to appoint Elizabeth Amber-Conkle as the alternate.

Downtown parking presentation: Andy Greenwood of the city’s Planning & Zoning Board made a presentation of data and suggestions for downtown parking.

The City of Safety Harbor is the official holder of the Guinness World Record for “Largest Watermelon-Eating Contest.” (Kim Nicholls)

Guinness World Record presentation: The Commission accepted the official Guinness World Record certificate for this summer’s Melons for Moolah watermelon-eating contest from the event’s volunteers.


Watch the video of it on the city’s website here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2033


7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 15.


  1. Scott, my apologies for not better explaining ERUs in the article. If you live in a single-family home, you’ll pay the $39 ERU. The ERU is a calculation made by a third-party company contracted by the city. It determines the usage of a single-family residence and uses that number (usually square-footage) to calculate the fee to charge businesses and other property owners that are not single-family residences.

  2. can someone explain exactly what this means for an individual homeowner ?

    $39 per ERU, or “equivalent residential unit,” for city streetlights

  3. Three stories and 40-45 ft is appropriate for these first few blocks of Main Street, honoring the original historical buildings of Main Street and allowing true mixed use buildings of traditional Main Street design. Why would we hinder our future generations. And from an environmental, sustainability standpoint, it is the responsible moral thing to do. We should be encouraging best use to maximize the goods and services on our own Main Street to limit the distance our local residents have to travel on a weekly basis. We are not talking sky rise buildings, we are talking about 40-45 ft. The remainder of Main Street is already limited to 35 ft. What a waste of my tax dollars. Dejavu? Same arguments years ago for the 100 block, Barfly building now across from the original 3 story building. This entrance to Main Street with the original 3 story building is now the most lively, and most photographed section of Main Street. Why? Because it is welcoming, attractive, charming, and nostalgic at 45 ft.

    • I echo Kevin’s statement. That corner is the hub of downtown. I’d like to add that the most charming downtowns I’ve found, IMO, are eclectic, without every building at the same height, etc. A little bit of difference adds interest and charm.

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