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Town homes proposed for land next to Oldsmar library
The City Commission recently directed the City Manager to negotiate a development agreement for a town home development next to the library
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Photo by JEFF ROSENFIELD
A look at the 7-acre parcel of land located adjacent to the Oldsmar Public Library that could be the site of a 52-unit town home development. The City Council recently approved a rezoning request for the land on first reading by a 5-0 vote.
OLDSMAR – The Oldsmar City Council recently authorized City Manager Bruce Haddock to negotiate a development agreement for a proposed 52-unit town home complex that would be built on a vacant parcel of City-owned land next to the Oldsmar Public Library.

The details of the agreement call for the sale of 3.79 acres of the 7-acre parcel to the Eastern Meridian Group for $877,182, with several requirements of the developer, including buying into the City’s storm water system, using architecture consistent with code requirements and constructing a street that would run through the development, connecting St. Petersburg Drive with Arlington Avenue.

During a discussion of the item on July 18, the five commissioners were split on their opinion of the connecting drive after a couple of Arlington Avenue residents spoke in vehement opposition of the proposal.

“I would like the Council to say, ‘let’s not do this,’” Dale Renbjor said. “This is fifty-two town homes. That’s 200 people, 104 cars. It impacts traffic, I feel, in a negative manner.”

“To me, it changes the character and nature of the area back there next to the library.”

Fellow Arlington Avenue resident Dave Tilki noted that during a recent discussion of the Oldsmar Cares expansion project, Council member Gabby McGee opposed an access drive that would steer traffic through a residential neighborhood.

“Council member McGee, at a hearing two weeks ago or so about Oldsmar Cares, I’m quoting you, said, ‘This is zoned for office, it doesn’t necessarily need any access to a residential street,’” Tilki said. “I guess I would make the same comment here. If this is gonna be zoned Town Center Commercial Neighborhood, why do they need any access to a residential street?”

Later in the meeting, McGee explained her reasoning.

“Obviously, that is a business and charitable organization, and it doesn’t really need to have access into a residential area,” she said. “I can see the point about not necessarily needing the street to go through. My concern would be though, if there was only one way in or out, and you have 52 town homes, if there were an emergency or a fire, those people only have one way in or out.”

Oldsmar Fire Chief Dean O’Nale confirmed McGee’s point, noting that multiple access points are generally preferred by emergency responders. “When we can, we like to have multiple ways in and out,” he said.

Council members Eric Seidel and Jerry Beverland said they were in favor of the development, with caveats.

“I think it’s good for the City,” Seidel said of the development. “But I won’t support that (street).”

“I want it iron-clad … that the architectural design of the buildings, I want to see it first,” Beverland said. “I’m gonna be tough on this. If I don’t like the architectural designs, I’ll vote against the whole thing.”

The item ultimately passed by a vote of 4-1, with Beverland casting the lone ‘no’ vote.

Earlier in the meeting, the council unanimously consented to authorize the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would rezone the lot from Residential Single-Family 2 (R2) to Town Center/Commercial Neighborhood, a move that would pave the way for the future development of the land.

Noting the council had previously considered building a new community center on the property, Mayor Doug Bevis said of the rezoning, “This is just one step of many that has to be involved.”

City Manager Bruce Haddock concurred, stating the “project is a long way from being a done deal,” with multiple trips before the planning board and the council still to come. But he added, “I think the rezoning should be done, irregardless.”

On Aug. 1, the council approved the rezoning request by a 5-0 vote on first reading.
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