Safety Harbor Commission resumes hotel meeting Monday


Monday’s Safety Harbor City Commission meeting will have a deja vu feel to it, as all items on the main agenda have been there before, with the completion of a hearing over a proposed hotel almost assuredly to garner the most attention.

Monday’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=1625

Rendering of what the proposed Candlewood Suites will look like when completed. (KOS Corp.)

TOP ISSUE

PROPOSED HOTEL FOR OAKBROOK PLAZA

What is it? City Commission held a quasi-judicial hearing on July 16 for a major site plan modification for Oakbrook Plaza at the corner of McMullen Booth and Enterprise roads, as the owners of the property, KOS Corp., wish to build a Candlewood Suites hotel there, as permitted by city code. The hearing concluded, but Commission decided it needed more information before voting.

What’s the issue? City staff has or will provide additional information on the three points Commission requested:

  1. Classification of Enterprise Road: City code says a hotel must be built entirely within 300 feet of a signalized arterial roadway, and nearby residents questioned on July 16 whether this was the case as there is conflicting information on whether Forward Pinellas, Pinellas County’s metropolitan planning organization, considers Enterprise Road is a “signalized arterial roadway” or a “collector roadway.” Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas’ executive director, has written a letter to Commission attempting to explain the confusion. While Enterprise Road’s “federal functional classification” is a collector road, Forward Pinellas’ level of service database, established in the 1990s to give communities more flexibility in approving or denying projects, considers Enterprise Road and many other high-volume four-lane roads in the county as signalized arterial roads. In other words, Commission will need to decide whether to apply the federal standard, which is also adopted by the county, or to apply the level of service standard, also adopted by the county in an effort to better reflect the actual use of the road.
  2. Clarification on hotels vs. “transient housing:” An attorney representing nearby residents said the city code’s language about hotels possibly contradicts its language on “transient housing.” City Attorney Nikki Day will provide Commission her opinion prior to Monday’s meeting.
  3. Submerged lands calculation: The same attorney representing nearby residents also questioned on July 16 whether submerged lands on the property were factored into the calculation for the maximum allowable floor area ratio allowed for the project. They were not, and since that meeting, the applicant conducted a survey of the submerged lands. City staff says calculations made after the new survey show that the project remains within allowed limits.       

What decision needs to be made? Commission needs to approve or deny the site plan modification, based solely on “competent substantial evidence” provided by witnesses on July 16.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA …

Design incentives for builders: Commission voted 5-0 on Aug. 6 to approve new design incentives for builders, with four modifications, which are reflected in the revised ordinance up for second and final reading approval on Monday. The changes mean builders who want incentives will need to earn 25 points by including various design features to foster “small town charm,” one or more of the design features needs to include front- or side-yard setbacks that are larger than required under city code and that side setbacks earn more points than originally recommended. Builders who meet all of the requirements will earn fast-track approval of their site plan and a reimbursement of some impact fees.

Tree ordinance Land Development Code amendment: Commission unanimously approved on first reading a number of changes to the city’s tree ordinance suggested by city staff, with two additional changes. Residents can avoid a fee if they decide to replant a tree that is cut down and residents and builders can’t replace a shade tree that is cut down with a palm tree. Those  changes are reflected in the amended ordinance, up for second and final reading Monday night.

Code change for fire protection standards: Commission voted 5-0 on first reading Aug. 6 to approve strengthening the city’s fire protection standards and fire hydrant requirements, as recommended by the Fire Department. This will be the second and final reading.

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 include approvals for an easement agreement for a water main, new Public Works vehicles and payment for a Leisure Services trip for seniors.

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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