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Downtown redevelopment moves forward
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TREASURE ISLAND – City leaders decided June 5 to move forward on an ordinance that would put two key components of proposed Treasure Island downtown redevelopment on the November ballot.

The ordinance would allow voters to approve proposed density and height changes to the downtown core area, as well as a stretch along Gulf Boulevard.

The city plans to make a change from commercial general to mixed use in its Future Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan, which would allow for both residential and commercial redevelopment in both areas.

In the downtown core, primarily along 107th Avenue, city leaders want to establish temporary lodging density at 60 units per acre and permanent residential density at a maximum of 24 units per acre.

Along Gulf Boulevard, the standard would be temporary lodging density at a maximum of 60 units per acre and permanent residential density at a maximum of 15 units per acre.

Commissioner Alan Bildz wondered why the measure has to be on the November ballot, instead of a later date.

“Why rush this?” he asked. “Why do we have to put this on the November ballot? Why can’t we wait until March? I guarantee you, if we rush this through too fast, the voters will turn it down.”

City Manager Reid Silverboard explained that height and density aspects of the redevelopment plan are all voters will be asked to approve.

Commissioner Phil Collins agreed with Silverboard, noting the process is long overdue.

“I don’t think we’re rushing through this,” Collins said. “We’ve been working on this for four or five years. I’m with Reid and I think we need to go forward. We need to pull the trigger and get done with it.”

Attorney Heidi Horak, former chairwoman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, said she believes the density level of 60 units per acre in the downtown core would not be sufficient for hotel development and the number needed to be somewhere around 72. She also believed a March election would be better for voter approval.

“It will be a detriment to have the election in November,” she said, “because a lot of people are going to come out to vote for president and are not going to know about the issue, and vote no. March would be better.”

Mayor Bob Minning said he favored having the measure on the November ballot.

“I’d like to see a majority of Treasure Island residents have their say and have the maximum number of voters have their say,” Minning said.

City Attorney Maura Kiefer said asking residents to approve the height and density changes prior to the main ordinance being approved by the City Commission was akin to a straw ballot.

She said she planned to get an opinion from State Attorney General Pam Bondi on the process.

“Basically, we’re asking (the voters) to vote on something in relationship to a potential ordinance,” Kiefer said.

In other action, commissioners:

• Moved forward on a request for the city to host the Fin-Tastic Voyage event Saturday, Aug. 4 on the beach behind Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd. The one-day event is part of the Landshark Fintastic Tour, which promotes beach cleanups and offers Ocean Conservancy information. The free event also will include beach games and paddleboard instruction, as well as Landshark and Margaritaville sampling stations.

• Moved forward on a resolution to award a $467,565 contract to Keystone Excavators for drainage improvements on Sunset Beach. The area targeted is Bayshore Boulevard from 77th Avenue north to 79th Avenue.

• Moved forward on a resolution to extend the city’s interlocal agreement with the county that would allow the city to be reimbursed for certain expenses associated with a sand sharing project.

• Moved forward on a proposed ordinance that would expand the types of animals and other creatures prohibited from being on the city beaches. “We’re getting more than dogs on the beach,” said Silverboard. “The current ordinance only prohibits dogs. So when other people bring other undomesticated animals out on the beach, police can’t do anything.” Snakes and pigs have been among the animals residents have complained about. As a side amendment to the ordinance, commissioners decided to add a provision allowing folks to walk their dogs on the Beach Trail.

• Moved forward on a resolution that would appropriate a supplement of $8,500 for police education.

• Moved forward on a resolution to spend $14,232 for composite decking from Decks & Docks, which would be used to extend the boardwalk of a dune walkover at 122nd Avenue.

• Moved ahead on a resolution to spend $11,600 for 25 new Dumpsters.

• Moved forward on a resolution to maintain Fire Department staffing at 13 until Lt. Fred Ball retires in the fall and firefighter Heber Revella fills the vacancy created.
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