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Tarpon Springs Beacon
County OKs zoning for housing project
Article published on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013
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Pinellas County Commissioners approved rezoning the area outlined in yellow to allow a proposed affordable housing complex to be located on 1.76 acres adjacent to Alt. 19 in unincorporated Tarpon Springs. Much of the 55 acre wooded property is wetlands. The landowner transferred development rights from the wetlands to the proposed building site.
CLEARWATER – If all goes according to plan, new affordable housing for seniors may be coming to unincorporated Tarpon Springs.

Pinellas County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Nov. 19 changing the zoning classifications for about 55 acres located on the west side of U.S. Alt. 19 and about 515 feet north of Terrace Road.

Approval includes a 50 percent affordable housing density bonus and a transfer of density with a developer’s agreement for a 125 unit residential development with a maximum height of 70 feet. The application also includes one single-family residence for personal use on the north edge of the property south of Tarpon Springs Municipal Golf Course.

“This is a very complex site,” said John Cueva, Planning Department Zoning manager. “It includes 48 acres of wetlands and uplands are scattered on the site.”

He said what was good about the application was that it transferred the development rights from the wetland areas to congregate all the proposed housing units outside the floodplain. He said staff had negotiated with the applicant for the best location, which is primarily on 1.76 acres currently zoned commercial adjacent to Alt. 19.

“The final concept plan is very sustainable,” he said.

The bonus is that the plan is to provide housing for the elderly, which is the type of development needed in the area, Cueva said. Staff noted that the agreement did not state that housing would be for seniors. The applicant, Capon Corporation and John and Bonnie Mills, intends to market the property to a developer for affordable housing for seniors, Cueva said. The property is located in close proximity to Florida Hospital of North Pinellas, which would be a bonus for an affordable senior housing project.

Some of the neighbors opposed the proposed development. Justin Vessey, president of the Grassy Pointe Homeowner’s Association, submitted a petition against it. He said people were concerned about additional traffic on a road, especially elderly drivers, along with potential impact to the wetlands. He said some residents were worried about sinkholes.

Gordon Beardslee, Planning Department administrator, told commissioners that Alt. 19 is currently considered a “constrained” roadway, meaning traffic exceeds capacity and there are no scheduled plans to change conditions. However, he pointed out that the property where the building would be constructed is currently zoned commercial and is in use as a plant nursery.

He said a housing project would result in a reduction in traffic. In addition, as part of the developer’s agreement, the applicant has agreed to a Transportation Management Plan and will construct a concrete pad for a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus stop in front of the property and will construct 200 feet of sidewalk to the north of the property.

Water and wastewater service will be provided by the city of Tarpon Springs.

Clearwater attorney Ed Armstrong, who represented the applicant at the meeting, responded to the neighbor’s complaints. He said the applicant was following the countywide rules and added that a housing complex would mean less traffic. He pointed out that none of the development would take place on wetlands.

“The proximity to the hospital would be a benefit to people (in the complex),” he said.
Article published on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013
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