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Residents’ concerns win out as developments downsized
Holiday Isles Marina, on the Intracoastal, has fewer buildings, more open space
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Drawing courtesy of CITY OF MADEIRA BEACH
The Holiday Isle Marina project on the old Leverock’s property adjacent to the causeway bridge has been drastically downsized from what was approved in 2016. The style has also been changed to capture a “fishing village” ambiance. This image is from the southeast, with the proposed hotel on the right, beside the bridge, and a condominium building at the south end of the property.
MADEIRA BEACH – Pressure from residents has apparently resulted in the second major development in the city of Madeira Beach being reduced in size and redesigned.

A revised plan that features a significant downsizing of the Holiday Isle Marina, proposed for the Holton property on the Intracoastal Waterway at the foot of the Tom Stuart Causeway Bridge, was presented at the Feb. 14 city commission meeting. The number of buildings is being reduced from the six approved in 2016 to two.

A 122-room condo-hotel is now gone from the plan. The remaining 150-room hotel is being reduced from seven floors over two floors of parking to five floors over one parking floor. Residential condo units are being reduced from 68 to 31 in one five-floor building that is replacing three previous seven- and nine-story structures. A planned standalone restaurant will now be located in the hotel. A proposed marina will have 124 boat slips, which are 40 less than originally planned.

The project’s downsizing was made in response to citizens’ comments, said planner Cyndi Tarapani, a spokesperson for developer James Holton.

Residents in nearby condos had complained of their view being blocked by the development’s structures. In response, the buildings are being moved to the far eastern edge of the site, opening up the view corridors as much as possible, Tarapani said.

“We want to be mindful of our neighbors, and maintain open views,” she said.

A goal of the changes is to “reduce bulk and density,” said spokesperson Katie Cole. The style was also completely changed to give the appearance of a “fishing village.”

A main feature of the development is a pedestrian and cycling walkway that will run under the bridge. That will connect to the walking and bike path on the north side of 150th Avenue being proposed as a part of the Madeira Town Center project, and from there to the beach.

“We want to continue the loop from the beach to this site,” said Tarapani.

Increased traffic had been a major concern of some residents living in the area. Traffic engineer Robert Pergolizzi said the revised development would have a 25 percent reduction in traffic compared to the previous plan.

David Healy, the city’s planning consultant, said the Holiday Isle Marina project meets all the city’s code standards, and all the criteria for the 2009 Planned Development rezoning, which is what the resident groups had been asking for.

Following the development’s presentation, no residents commented on the revised proposal.

Commission members unanimously approved on first reading the revised development proposal and rezoning needed to move the Holiday Isle Marina project forward. The city’s Planning Board gave its approval last month. A second and final reading is scheduled for the commission meeting on March 7.

Madeira Town Center project gets final approval

Last month, the city commission approved changes to the Madeira Town Center, which will be built along Madeira Way and 150th Avenue. Two hotels were reduced from 11 stories to eight, and two condo buildings from eight stories to six, along with a reduced number of rooms.

Those reductions, as well as some alterations in building positioning, were made in response to concerns expressed by residents in meetings with developer William Karns, a spokesperson for Karnes had said at the Jan. 10 commission meeting. A second and final vote of approval was given at the Feb. 14 meeting.

Kate Wells, an attorney representing Karns, pointed out that there is a provision in the agreement with the city that would allow the developer to back out of the downsized project under certain conditions. If litigation is filed that would challenge the validity of the project, Karns has the right to withdraw his latest proposal and revert to the larger scale project that was approved in 2016.

Wells said, “My client would like to start building – that’s what he does. So we intentionally did this.” She said it is their hope that litigation will not be filed, and the development can move forward in the downsized version. Any lawsuits would have to be filed within 30 days from the commission’s final approval of Feb. 14.

City clerk resigns under pressure

City Clerk Aimee Servedio, a longtime city employee, has resigned, apparently under pressure. City Attorney Thomas Trask said Servedio had signed a letter of resignation. She was given a choice of resignation or facing possible termination, Trask said. She had been placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 2.

Trask said Servedio’s resignation came as the result of issues that had occurred “over the past year.” He mentioned “leaving city hall early and possible insubordination” as examples. Trask said he had “met with the mayor and city manager and other employees about the city clerk, and there were a number of issues where things weren’t working as well as they could.” He gave no further details, saying, “This is a very private matter.”

Servedio had been employed by the city for 34 years, serving as administrative assistant to the fire chief before being appointed city clerk in 2013. The clerk is a charter officer who reports directly to the commissioners rather than the city manager.

By resigning, Trask said Servedio will receive a severance package that will provide her with 20 weeks of pay. She will be paid accumulated unused sick and vacation days. Trask said the payments to Servedio are the maximum the law allows.

Commission members had little to say on the matter after Trask’s remarks. He had previously spoken to each of them individually. Mayor Travis Palladeno said he had had a number of discussions with Servedio over the past year. “That’s all I have to say,” he said.

Commissioner Terry Lister said Servedio had been asked to transition from the fire department to city clerk and “apparently the change was just not suited for Aimee.” Vice Mayor Housh Ghovaee said his high evaluation of Servedio was based on his personal interaction with her only. He said he had no knowledge of other issues.

The “issues” with Servedio that Trask mentioned must have come fairly recently. At her last performance evaluation in October, City Manager Shane Crawford and commission members showered Servedio with praise.

Crawford had said, after reviewing the commission members’ ratings of Servedio, “I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that they are fantastic marks, as usual.” As for a pay raise, Crawford said, “You couldn’t ask for a better city clerk, and she’s certainly worth anything you give her.”

Palladeno had said, “You’ve read my report, and once again, an outstanding job. Especially high marks on working with staff and others.”

Commissioner Nancy Hodges had also praised Servedio, saying, “Aimee is always there when I need her.”

“She is a wonderful city clerk” who “does a fantastic job,” Lister had said.

Ghovaee said “She is always on top of the game” and “very personable, very professional.”

After Servedio was placed on leave Feb. 2, Crawford’s assistant, Cheryl McGrady, was asked to take on city clerk responsibilities on an interim basis. The discussion of how to fill the position led to a unanimous vote by the commission to appoint McGrady as the permanent city clerk.

Crawford said McGrady is the city’s third most tenured employee and “knows the code inside and out.” She was also an assistant to former City Clerk Denise Schlegel, who was highly regarded, he said. McGrady is also currently doing planning and zoning work, due to a vacancy in that department.

“Cheryl is quite qualified, and we need to keep moving ahead,” said Commissioner Nancy Hodges.

Ghovaee, who said he had known McGrady when she worked for the city of Seminole before coming to Madeira Beach, praised McGrady for her multi-tasking abilities. “She’s fantastic. I think she’ll do a great job (as city clerk),” he said.

“I have no problem with her,” said Commissioner Ingrid Ferro-Spilde.

Lister said, “promoting from within is good. We know who deserves it, and I think Cheryl deserves it.”

In her new job, McGrady will report to the commission rather than Crawford. That means that McGrady can keep her job even if she and Crawford get married, as Crawford has said they plan to do.
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