An aerial view of the Tides Golf Course, located in an unincorporated area of Pinellas County in District 9. Developer Taylor Morrison withdrew its County application to rezone the property for residential development in January, but homeowners bordering the property were recently alerted that the developer has a pending rezoning application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
SEMINOLE – When developer Taylor Morrison withdrew its application with Pinellas County to rezone the Tides Golf Club for residential redevelopment, those taking a stand against the plan to build new homes on the property, located on Boca Ciega Bay at 11832 66th Ave. N., were ecstatic.
“But the celebrations may have come a bit too soon,” said Karen Elfallah, treasurer for Save the Tides, a group of nearby homeowners and citizens who opposed the redevelopment. “Taylor Morrison isn’t going to just go away.”
As of April 29, property owners that border the Tides were contacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to alert them of Taylor Morrison’s pending application with them to redevelop the golf course. A public notice was posted as well.
Elfallah said Save the Tides’ attorney, Ralf Brookes, told her that it’s a common practice for developers to submit rezoning applications with the Army Corps in addition to the local jurisdiction where they hope to build.
“Still, we were blindsided by it,” she said. “We don’t really understand what their tactic is.”
The Army Corps could approve the permit, she said, but that wouldn’t give the project an automatic green light. Taylor Morrison would still have to restart the process with the County, and get approval for the zoning change and development plans.
The Arizona-based homebuilder, which hoped to build up to 170 single- and multi-family homes on the property, withdrew its rezoning application Jan. 9 after a County staff report recommended that their rezoning request be denied. The report said the proposed development was inconsistent with the Pinellas County Comprehensive Plan, particularly with the plan’s policies regarding open space.
“In a built-out county it is difficult to compensate for such a sizeable loss should these lands be developed,” staff wrote in the report. “The economic, environmental, and community (social and quality of life) consequences of conversion of open space to developed uses are at the center” of its recommendation to deny the proposed development. Taylor Morrison’s plan designated 18 acres for open space.
But Elfallah and Save the Tides are concerned approval by the Army Corps could give the project some clout if it comes back to the County for reconsideration.
“They’ll be able to wave this piece of paper around and say, look, the Army Corps said it was fine,” she said.
Brookes sent an objection letter on behalf of Save the Tides, saying the wetlands “will suffer adverse impacts and effects” should the project move forward.
“The applicant has asked to waive mitigation for permanent loss of 4.5 acres of federally protected wetlands, which is unacceptable and this application should be rejected for this reason alone,” he wrote.
Conservation, in addition to quelling overbuilding in the most densely populated – and second smallest – county in the state are Save the Tides’ primary concerns.
Through Monday, May 19, the Army Corps is accepting public comments about the project. They can be sent by mail to Darlene Dannels, Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Ave., Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610-8302, by email to Darlene.email@example.com, by fax at 813-769-7061 or by phone at 813-769-7068.
Ed Armstrong, the Clearwater land-use attorney who previously represented Taylor Morrison on this project, and Dannels did not respond to requests for comments.