REDINGTON SHORES – A roomful of residents protesting an unwanted development got the attention of town commission members at their Dec. 13 regular meeting. The commission responded by overturning variances granted the developers.
The proposed development, on 181st Avenue West off of Gulf Boulevard, consists of four residential structures, each three stories over parking, which residents described as out of character with the neighborhood. The variances granted, which the commission turned down, related to setback reductions. The special magistrate had already denied variance requests that would have allowed two duplexes and flat roofs.
The property is now mostly vacant, with one single family home and a duplex.
Resident Christina Warren, who is appealing the Special Magistrate’s decision, said the development being proposed would lessen the quality of life in the neighborhood. Warren said the reduced setbacks would result in more concrete and more flooding.
“We already have flooding, and this will make it worse,” she said.
Warren said she lives behind the development site, and the proposed homes would tower two-and-a-half stories above her house and come within 5 feet of her back door. “I would have no privacy,” she said. “They would be right on top of me.”
“This is the wrong project for this space. This has to be done in a way that works for the area,” Warren said.
Jennifer Beasley expressed similar concerns. “We’re a tight-knit, close community on a tiny little street which is already crowded,” she said, adding that her neighbors encourage change and realize something is going to be built on the property. “But buildings four stories tall, and close to the street – that would create a wall of buildings,” she said.
Barry Taylor said he was worried about the development’s impact on the entire community because it sets a precedent for the rest of the town.
Jeff Kareskie said he was “flabbergasted by the variances granted.”
“This does not fit the community,” Kareskie said. The developer is a commercial builder, he said, “and this looks like a commercial development.” Kareskie added, “I have not found a single resident who wants this.”
Lisa Foster said she was concerned about the flooding, “and this will add to it.”
“It is very, very difficult to develop here without worsening the flooding issue,” she said. “I support my neighbors,” Foster said. She urged the commission to overturn the variances granted, which she termed “an unreasonable request.”
Architect Jack Bodziak, representing the developer, said major modifications to the development are being done to make it “a lot more in line with what the residents are looking for.”
Developer Khamir Patel said, “We took another look (at the project), and are making some adjustments.” He said, “We are trying to work with everyone,” but added, “We still need the variances.”
After hearing from the residents and the developer, the commission took little time to reach a decision. Without discussion, they voted unanimously to overturn all of the variances granted, giving the residents a reason to cheer, which they did, along with applause.
The commission’s decision, combined with the Special Magistrate’s original ruling, means that all of the variances requested by the developer were turned down.
The public comments section at the end of the meeting was a chorus of “thank yous” from the delighted residents.
The commission workshop scheduled for Dec. 27 was cancelled. The next meeting will be the regular meeting Wednesday, Jan. 10.
New mayor, commissioner in March
With the end of the qualifying period on Dec. 15, three people qualified for three seats so each will be automatically elected. There will be no election in March in Redington Shores.
MaryBeth Henderson, who has been a commissioner for four years, will become mayor. She replaces longtime mayor Bert Adams, who decided not to run again. Stepping into Henderson’s District 3 commission seat is political newcomer Michael Robinson, and the District 1 seat will continue to be held by Tom Kapper.