REDINGTON SHORES – Building design guidelines adopted 10 years ago got a fresh, and disapproving look by some at the Jan. 29 Redington Shores Town Commission workshop.
The standards were proposed by an urban design consultant and intended to “create a pedestrian friendly, aesthetically coherent, desirable place to live, work and play, known for its distinctive Florida coastal character.”
They were meant to give the business district on Gulf Boulevard a consistent look, and feature such elements as Spanish Mediterranean style exteriors, mixed use buildings and “welcoming pedestrian environments.”
The guidelines were to apply to new commercial construction, of which there has been little in Redington Shores in recent years, and renovations over 50 percent. Though the recommendations were never followed, their value, and the desirability of having a consistent appearance for the town’s buildings were debated by the commissioners and residents attending the meeting.
The issue came up when Commissioner Lee Holmes said some of the business owners were planning to do modifications. He said the town should “try to steer them within the guidelines so hopefully we will look nicer and better.”
Holmes mentioned creating recommended paint schemes for the building exteriors.
“We would tell them to please use certain colors or shades so we don’t end up with garish paints,” he said.
If left to the businesses, Holmes feared “we could have helter-skelter properties being painted whatever they want.” Having parameters, he said, “would assist in making our town look better.”
Vice Mayor John Branch said he was on the commission when the urban design guidelines were adopted, and was not pleased with the outcome.
“(The consultant) wanted us to look like Helen, Ga.,” Branch said. “They wanted all the buildings to look the same, with false fronts.”
The guidelines did not follow the town’s comprehensive plan, said resident Christy Herig.
“We are in a tropical zone and have hurricanes, not a Mediterranean climate,” she said.
Resident Christine Cook said she also opposed a conforming look for all the buildings.
“We moved here because we liked the town as it is,” she said. The guidelines “would make us look like a cookie cutter town with everything looking the same,” Cook said, adding, “That’s scary.”
Donna Waldman said some standards for the businesses’ appearance is not a bad idea.
“In the past, I lived near a lime green house with a yellow roof,” Waldman said. “It was disgusting. So I don’t mind giving a little bit of direction.”
Commissioner Casey Wojcik said “what people do on their private property is none of our business.”
Herig, who served on the original urban design committee, said she didn’t mind some standards for town structures.
“But it should be done appropriately,” she said. Herig said the design guidelines should be redone in accordance with the comprehensive plan.
“Redo it, don’t patch it,” she said.
Mayor Bert Adams said the commission would take a look at the design guidelines and building conformity. No action was taken on Holmes’ proposal to give businesses currently wanting to do renovations direction on paint colors, or any other design elements.
Opinion appears divided on the issue, and Adams said any recommendations were “not going to happen overnight.”
Building services agreement expanded
Last year, Redington Shores agreed to share its building services department with Indian Shores.
The arrangement has worked well, according to officials. And it will now be expanded to include Ashton Woods, a 57-unit, 8-building condo development in Indian Shores, being built on the former Hungry Fisherman restaurant property at 19915 Gulf Blvd. There, building official Steve Andrews and his assistant will be paid $35 per inspection stop made.
The fees are expected to add about $8,000 to the approximately $60,000 that Redington Shores receives from Indian Shores for performing property inspections there. Andrews will also be paid separately for overtime work to do site plan reviews of the Ashton Woods project.
Indian Shores Vice Mayor Bill Smith described the new arrangement as a “win-win-win” for all parties.
“This makes sense all around,” Smith told the commission. “It means more revenue for you, and we get (building) services at a reasonable price. Plus, Steve (Andrews) gets extra pay for overtime work.”
Redington Shores officials also praised the towns’ expanded partnership agreement.
“This brings in money from Indian Shores and that helps us,” said Commissioner Tom Kapper.
Wojcik said everybody benefits from the shared services, which he said was similar to Indian Shores providing police services to Redington Shores.
“We should look for more opportunities like this,” Wojcik said.