LARGO - City commissioners went against the advice of the Planning Board on April 18 and decided to move ahead with a public hearing for an ordinance designed to regulate facilities that dispense medical marijuana in the city of Largo.
In December, the commission established a 180-day moratorium on the facilities in an effort to develop land-use regulations. That moratorium will expire June 4, so the commission will have to decide whether to approve the ordinance or extend the moratorium 90 days.
But they said it needs a few tweaks first before they vote on it May 2.
LARGO - The city of Largo will hold a neighborhood cleanup for residents and volunteers to beautify the Archwood - South Haven Subdivision off Rosery Road Northwest and Clearwater-Largo Road on Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will offer a variety of information and services while encouraging residents to participate in beautification activities such as planting trees, landscaping, and helping neighbors clean.
Largo Solid Waste will have dumpsters at the corner of Rosery Road Northwest and Clearwater-Largo Road for yard waste, construction debris, tires, tree limbs, furniture, and electronic waste. Normal household trash and recycling can be set out on the normal collection days.
LARGO - When six deputies shot and killed an armed man April 6 in the parking lot of the Winghouse off Ulmerton Road in Largo, there were few questions why they pulled the trigger.
According to a report, the Tarpon Springs man, who was wanted for failure to appear on a felony fraud charge, failed to obey commands and then fired his handgun on the detectives, striking the hood of one of their vehicles.
While the incident appeared to be a justified shooting, many cases are not so clear-cut. Combined with the ubiquity of smartphone cameras, the scrutiny officers face about their use of force has reached a new level, changing both the environment and training tactics.
LARGO - Since 2006, the city’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity has led to the construction of 30 new homes in Largo. City leaders hope a new program will increase that number for Habitat and other nonprofits that create affordable housing.
City Commissioners voted 5-0, with commissioners Michael Smith and Samantha Fenger absent, April 4 to establish a program that would allow the city to waive any code enforcement liens on homes that are purchased by nonprofits who seek to repair or demolish them.
The goal of the program is to encourage the acquisition and renovation of residential properties by removing any obstacles for nonprofits the city works with, such as Habitat for Humanity, Largo Area Housing Development Corp. or Bright Community Trust. Currently, an organization must first purchase the property and then appear before the Code Enforcement Board to request a reduction in the lien. But Habitat has been resistant to purchase any properties that have code liens.
LARGO - Nearly 200 city officials from all over Florida recently visited Tallahassee as part of the Florida League of Cities’ Legislative Action Days, where they spoke with state lawmakers about issues being addressed during the legislative session.
Largo commissioners Jamie Robinson and Michael Smith were among those officials, and they shared the same concern as many of their counterparts: the decline of Home Rule.
Robinson said several bills filed this session attempt to limit cities’ local decision-making authority and that it was his mission this trip to voice opposition to those measures.
LARGO - In November, the Largo Police Department entered into a contract with the Department of Transportation and began a High Visibility Pedestrian/Bicycle Enforcement Grant to educate vulnerable users and drivers in regards to pedestrian safety.
Since November, officers have focused on educating pedestrians and bicyclists about their responsibilities when using the roadway as well as drivers and their responsibilities when using the roadway. Officers provided numerous safety items and reminders to assist in the education.
Since April 1, officers have switched their efforts from education to enforcement. The details will be focused on corridors that are considered high crash areas for pedestrians and bicyclists.
LARGO - If Tanya Pistillo had any doubts that art can create a sense of pride or change lives, then her latest project erased them in a hurry.
After working nine to 10 hours a day for the past three weeks, Pistillo has completed her nautical-themed mural at Jimmy’s Sports Lounge at the corner of Clearwater-Largo and Rosery roads.
Pistillo, who was working for free, would’ve charged about $7,000 for the mural. Instead she was paid with gratitude, which she said was priceless because it was an experience that inspired her and those who watched her.
LARGO - Two proposed public art initiatives aim to give portions of the city a fresh look with some vibrant colors.
The color green is holding them up, however, as city commissioners say they don’t want to spend Largo taxpayers’ money on public art. That might change, though, if the mural and traffic control box wrap programs, which would provide grants of up to $2,500 to applicants, were part of a broader initiative that included neighborhood property improvements, city leaders said during a commission meeting March 21.
LARGO - Mayor Woody Brown is urging Largo residents to join the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation to help make Largo the most “water wise” city in Pinellas County by pledging to reduce water use throughout April.
Cities with the highest percentage of residents who take the challenge in their population category win, and residents who participate are eligible for hundreds of prizes, including a Toyota Prius, cash, water-saving fixtures and more.
LARGO - Imagine Largo without Central Park, Highland Recreation Complex, the Public Library or Community Center.
Those are all amenities that the Penny for Pinellas has helped fund since it began in 1990. That’s why city and county officials have launched a campaign to inform the public about the 1-cent sales tax and the upcoming countywide referendum that will be held in November. That campaign includes an open house March 29 in Largo, where residents can provide feedback about some of the projects.
LARGO - When city leaders voted to replace longtime Largo City Manager Mac Craig with Henry Schubert in February 2016, some commissioners expressed concern about his ability to reach out to the community and think creatively to solve problems.
After a year on the job, those concerns were replaced with compliments and high scores on his evaluation, which is why commissioners voted 5-0, with Michael Smith and Jamie Robinson absent, to approve a 3 percent salary increase March 21.
LARGO - Brewers in the state of Florida produce more than 1.2 million barrels of craft beer each year, according to brewersassociation.org. About 30 percent of those breweries reside in the Tampa Bay area, and cities are saying the establishments are proven catalysts for redevelopment.
That is why city of Largo officials are looking to amend the code of ordinances in a bid to stay competitive and foster relationships with Largo’s existing breweries.
Economic Development Manager Teresa Brydon told city commissioners during a work session March 14 that several municipalities, including St. Petersburg, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Clearwater and Pinellas County, have updated their regulations to allow for the sale and consumption of alcohol in industrial properties. She advised Largo to do the same, and commissioners agreed.
LARGO - Officers from the Largo Police Department and other Pinellas County agencies attended ALICE Instructor Training at the Largo Public Library on March 14-15.
The two-day instructor ALICE course, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, teaches proactive survival strategies for violent intruder or active-shooter incidents.
The goal of the program is to provide individuals with survival-enhancing options for those critical moments in the gap between when a violent situation begins and when law enforcement arrives on scene.
LARGO - Since 2010, the city of Largo has battled a nonprofit in a breach of contract case that has implications for local governments across the state.
The Florida Supreme Court ended that battle March 2 when justices ruled 6-0 in favor of the city, validating the contract in question and ordering the nonprofit to pay the city what could end up amounting to nearly $1.5 million.
The case focused on the constitutionality of the city’s PILOT agreement, which allows an entity that is otherwise exempt from property taxes to make “payments in lieu of taxes” to a local government.
LARGO - When the city decided in April 2015 to move ahead with construction of a $13.64 million infrastructure project to cut down on sanitary sewer overflows, it set aside an extra $250,000 just in case.
After several additional costs incurred by the contractor, that amount has proven to be far too low, so city commissioners voted 5-0 on March 7 to add $1.146 million and an extra 180 days to the project.
The purpose of the Wastewater Reclamation Facility Disinfection and Effluent Pumping Improvements Project is to increase the sanitary sewer system capacity, comply with state effluent limits for discharge to Tampa Bay and replace critical infrastructure to prevent infrastructure failures.