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County amends downtown parking rules
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New parking rules are in effect for businesses in Old Palm Harbor Downtown Zoning District.
CLEARWATER – With no discussion and no comments from citizens, Pinellas County Commissioners unanimously approved code amendments March 19 that changed on-site parking requirements for a portion of Old Palm Harbor Downtown Zoning District.

For two years, commissioners heard complaints from some property owners that parking regulations were creating problems for their businesses. Many were upset about employees parking in spots needed by their customers.

After two parking studies, one conducted by county staff and a second by King Engineering, staff concluded that the amount of parking was adequate to serve the needs of downtown; however, everyone agreed there was room for improvement.

At a Dec. 18 meeting, King Engineering recommended a change in the parking rates in the OPH-D District and suggested ways to improve parking design and arrangements in the area. The commission asked staff to work on amending the zoning code to add the recommendations.

The amendments include having one set of parking requirements for retail and restaurant uses and another set of rules for medical clinics, medical offices and other office uses in the historic downtown’s east sub-district.

Parking rules for retail and restaurant businesses located south of Nebraska Avenue had required proprietors to provide a minimum number of off-street parking spaces equal to 45 percent of the minimum number of off-street parking required for the rest of unincorporated areas of the county, with a minimum of two spaces.

The amended rules require a minimum of 2.1 parking spaces per 1,000 feet of gross floor area in all areas of the east sub-district.

Medical Clinics, medical offices and other offices located south of Nebraska Avenue had been required to provide a minimum of 55 percent of the number required by other areas in unincorporated Pinellas, with a minimum of two spaces.

The amendment changes the requirements to four spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross area for all areas in the east sub-district. Parking rate reductions are possible depending on the proximity of public parking spaces. Rate reductions are not allowed for offices on Florida, Michigan or Nebraska avenues.

The changes are meant to encourage redevelopment in the downtown area and reduce employee parking in spots businesses would like to reserve for their customers.

Keystone Road update

Commissioners approved the ninth amendment to the agreement with Ayres Associates in Tampa for consultant services for Keystone Road, which allows for a time extension of 400 days past the expiration date of March 31.

Staff reported that the construction project remains on schedule; however, unexpected utility conflicts extended the project’s schedule to the end of summer or early fall 2013. The cost of the extension is $25,000, bringing the cost of the consultant’s agreement to nearly $2.1 million.

Foxwood Estates development

The commission approved a zoning change in unincorporated Tarpon Springs from Agricultural Estate Residential to Residential Planned Development. The request included a special exception to allow a medical clinic/office in a multi-family zoning district and a variance to allow the clinic to exceed the 2,500 square foot size limitation, which would allow construction of a 5,000-square-foot clinic with office space.
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