SEMINOLE – The City Council approved a request by Lakeview Park Land Trust, owner of the Lakeview Mobile Home Park at 9753 Seminole Blvd., to amend the Future Land Use Map and Official Zoning Map to include a jurisdictional line dividing an upland and a wetland area on the property.
The council voted unanimously to grant recognition of this environmental area at its March 25 meeting. But before the wetland designation becomes official, the land use amendment needs to next be approved by the county and state.
Mark Ely, Seminole’s community development director, said the mobile home park’s owner first came before the city’s Developmental Review Board last fall. At the time, LPLT had two requests: to establish a resort facilities overlay to allow transient rentals and to amend the property line to create a wetland area.
A number of the mobile home park’s neighbors attended those meetings to speak out against allowing transient rentals, Ely said. Other complaints included upkeep of the property, and safety concerns, including the number of sexual predators living within the mobile home community.
The property originally was part of Pinellas County and annexed into the city last summer, Ely said. So any code “violations existed under the city’s adopted code.”
But the property owners worked closely with code enforcement officers to rectify these violations, removing several dilapidated units and a boat abandoned in an area of mangroves, and repairing a structure that had been damaged when a truck drove into it.
“So as of tonight, there are no violations under the city’s code,” Ely said at the March 25 meeting. “We made sure of that as a qualification to get [this request] to [the council] tonight.”
When the property’s owners saw the opposition to transient rentals, they pulled the request off the table, Ely said.
“The only thing before [council] tonight is to recognize the wetland line,” he said.
He added, “The current land use map is not accurate to what’s actually on the ground. What the applicant is proposing to do is to adjust the future land use map to match the actual area.”
The most recent map of the area was created in 1992 and is “very generalized,” he said. The LPLT hired a surveyor to create an up-to-date “SWFMUD-engineering quality survey that shows where the delineation is.”
Still, four neighbors came out to voice myriad complaints about the property and the mobile home park before the City Council.
Steve Campisi, who lives nearby on 98th Terrace North, said a portion of the wetland area was actually a result of illegal dumping and would be non-buildable.
“That is illegal dumping there, all that land,” he said pointing to the proposed wetlands area on LPLT’s land use map. “What they are surveying is ground to water effect, which would be because [someone] dumped the dirt in the water. So that should be part of the lake.”
Ely said he reached out to the county regarding allegations of illegal dumping of fill on the site and that the county has no records of environmental actions or enforcements against the property’s previous owners.
Campisi’s mother, Carol Campisi, spoke out about the possibility of transient housing being permitted on the property in the future.
“Short-term rentals, they cause a lot of trouble,” she said.
She said the mobile home park would likely become a haven for sex offenders, exacerbating what is already an issue for the neighborhood. Despite Ely projecting a sex offender map indicating that none lived in the park, she cited her experience in the mental health field and said, “They are on both sides of 98th Terrace. They are. They are too cozy coming into our community.”
She also said that despite the owners of the mobile home park working to bring the property up to code, conditions are still “deplorable.”
“They are making futile attempts, but [the units] are closely wedged together,” she said. “Many of the screens are still broken out. Windows are still broken. It’s deplorable. It looks like a ghetto.”
John Martin, who also lives on 98th Terrace North, said he’s lived in his home since 1987.
“I’ve seen loads of different owners in the trailer park there and it’s really gone from bad to worse,” he said. “Now they’re talking about it being even worse than [ever since] I’ve been there.”
He said that despite the property being a 55 and older community, he has issues with children from the mobile home units trespassing on his property while he’s away for lengthy periods of time.
“I don’t think it’s a 55-plus development at all,” he said. “I lived the closest to this development. I’m really, really worried about it and quite concerned. If it does go down, I’ll be moving.”
Ely said that if land use and zoning maps were amended to recognize the wetland area, any new development, including the allowance of transient housing, “would all have to come through the review process like normal development.”
Since the council approved the amendment of the land use and zoning maps to recognize the wetland area, the request will next be considered by the county.