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Treasure Island switches gears
City leaders eye updated ordinance for redevelopment projects
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TREASURE ISLAND – City commissioners are considering an ordinance for a broader Planned Development Zoning District that Treasure Island staff believe, in the long term, will lead to a smoother redevelopment process in all areas of the city.

Unlike the previously proposed North End Development District, which would target a specific geographic area and could be subject to a possible legal challenge, the city believes the revision will allow for a referendum process consistent with the city charter that does not violate Florida Statute 163.3167(8), also known as the Anti-Referendum Act.

“We want to encourage development and redevelopment,” said Paula Cohen, community improvement director for the city. “What we’re asking is there specific maximum of tourist density that makes sense. Then go through and prepare changes to land use element.”

Once those numbers are determined, staff would prepare the ordinance, which would ultimately go to voters for consideration after it undergoes the scrutiny of the city’s Local Planning Agency. The ordinance would define “not to exceed” height and density levels by land use classification.

“This allows the community to vote on changes of height and density within certain areas of the city and gives the city commission absolute authority on approving a development plan,” said City Manager Reid Silverboard.

However, the entire process will take time. The voters will not likely see the proposed ordinance until the March municipal election.

“The reason we’re still sticking with a PD concept is because I think we have been able to cure the deficiencies in the NEPD,” said Silverboard. “This provides a referendum on a development that would permit a higher density or a higher height. But if it passes, it still provides the planning board and the City Commission the absolute authority to look at individual development plans. So if there’s something that’s not acceptable or out of character for our community, the commission has the authority to make changes.”

As far as density, the city’s Resort Facilities High land use classification currently allows 50 tourists units per acre under the city’s comprehensive plan. Staff is proposing a maximum of 75 tourist units per acre on sites of 3 acres or less. On sites of 3 acres or larger, the city is proposing a maximum of 100 tourists units per acre. Both fall within the current countywide comprehensive plan.

The current maximum height requirements for a motel/hotel development under the Resort Facilities High land use is 60 feet, or five living levels over one level of parking.

“At the next meeting (June 3), we will formally return this to the LPA for consideration to go back to the original PD concept and for the LPA to make suggestions as far as height and density,” said Silverboard. “We’ll work out a proposed ordinance for the LPA to consider and then make a recommendation to the commission. If the commission is in agreement with those height and density figures, then the commission can set the referendum on those height and density levels.”

Commissioner Phil Collins said he would like to see the process move faster, so that the ordinance could go before the voters in November.

“I’d like to see it done for the November election because the turnout would be a whole lot better,” Collins said.

“If that could be done, we would certainly do it,” said Mayor Bob Minning. “But I would suggest we not rush this through. We’ve got one chance to do this and we need to do it right.”

“The whole thing that’s driving this, the reason for more density and height, is we can get some more ad valorem tax money (with redevelopment),” said Commissioner Alan Bildz. “That way, we won’t have to keep raising the (tax) rates.”
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