Belleair Teen Council

Mayor Gary Katica, seated center, is surrounded by the Belleair Teen Council members, officials of the Florida League of Cities and the Belleair Commission as the teens received two awards from the Florida League of Cities.

BELLEAIR — The town’s Planning and Zoning Board is going to be busy in the next few weeks as two issues, which hadn’t surfaced before, are being sent to the board for consideration.

The issues involve parking on the town’s streets and fencing, both commercial and permanent.

Chris Brimo, the town’s planning consultant, gave town commissioners an overview Jan. 15 of what they should consider if they decide to require permits for parking on the town’s streets.

He had been asked to weigh in on the matter by Town Manager J.P. Murphy.

He said some communities require the approval of residents if they are going to restrict parking on certain streets.

“Some places require that 50 percent plus one resident on the street agree to impose restrictions,” he said.

Once restrictions are in place then the residents themselves would have to deal with a potential limit on the number of parking permits they get. Some communities only allow one permit per family, he said. Then there is the matter of guest permits for visitors and whether or not they should be for just one night or several.

In addition, Brimo told the commission that some communities charge a fee for permits, others do not, and he said there is the issue of transferability and whether a permit could be passed around in a family.

Brimo said there would also be the issue of contractor parking as they come to the community to do work.

“You will have to decide how to prioritize the parking issue and how to enforce it,” he said.

Mayor Gary Katica told Brimo he would have to explain it to the Planning and Zoning Board and have them look at everything.

“This came up several years ago and it is a complex issue,” he said. “There will be lots of opinions.”

Commissioner Karla Rettstatt wanted the commission to give special direction to the Planning and Zoning Board, “so they will know why we are looking at this in the first place,” she said.

Commissioners decided to ask the board to consider parking issues around four parks in town, Winston Park, Thompson Park, Hallett Park and the park on Coe Road.

“That is a good starting point; there is a lot to consider,” said Commissioner Tom Kurey.

“We can expand it if there is a need,” said Commissioner Tom Shelly.

The Planning and Zoning Board also is going to have to consider the issue of fences in the town.

Murphy told the commissioners that when it came to construction fences the town really had no regulations regarding what type of fencing material could be used or how they had to conform to setbacks.

Brimo said chain link fences seem to create the biggest issues in various Florida towns and cities.

“Chain link fencing has always been a problem,” he said. “Lots of towns don’t allow them in the front yards and most towns prohibit bare chain link fencing; they require some sort of buffer such as plants.”

Apart from Kurey’s comment that he liked the idea of not having chain link fences along the front of properties in town there was little other discussion other that a unanimous decision to pass the issue along to the Planning and Zoning Board for their consideration.

Conservation easement for the Pelican Golf Course obtained

Town Attorney David Ottinger reported to the commission that the easement, preventing development on the property, was complete.

“The conservation easement is now confirmed,” he said. “It came in just before the new year. It is for the entire property and it will now be green space forever.”

Those words ended a years-long issue that began when the golf course was owned by the Ades Brothers, former owners of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. At one point they threatened to build condos and other development on the property.

That moved the town to buy the golf course and begin to look into ways to prevent development in perpetuity.

Eventually the Doyle family bought the course from the town with the promise never to develop the property beyond a golf course.

The conservation easement was required to legally bind the Doyle’s to their promise.

Now the issue of development on the Pelican Golf Course has been put to rest.

No donation

Kurey was instrumental in a decision not to immediately donate an outdated truck to the Pinellas Technical College.

The town staff requested permission to donate the 2007 truck because it had outlived its usefulness in the town and hadn’t been used for some time.

Town Manager Murphy said the college would use the truck to train students to get their commercial driver’s license. He said many town employees got their commercial licenses through the college.

Kurey asked Murphy how much the truck was worth, and when Murphy responded between $5,000 to $10,000 Kurey had something to say.

“We are the stewards of people’s money,” he said. “Shouldn’t we be selling the truck and getting money for it?”

Rettstatt said she could see both sides of the argument but donating the truck would be helping education.

Commissioner Tom Shelly wondered if the town could get something back from the college for the truck, such as free education for the town’s employees.

That stirred Commissioner Michael Wilkinson to say “if we pay to have our employees get their license then I like Commissioners Kurey’s idea, let’s sell it.”

That threw the issue back into the hands of Murphy, who said he’d put the truck up for auction and report back to the commission.

Awards

The Belleair Community Foundation presented a check to Police Chief Rick Doyle to buy new radios for his department.

“A resident came forward with a $20,000 donation for the police radios and we are pleased to pass the money along,” said John Rich, vice president of the BCF.

In addition to that the Belleair Teen Council was presented with two awards from the Florida League of Cities. One award was for their efforts in donating 600 pairs of socks to needy people last winter. They won first place in the community spirit category.

The second award was for producing a film outlining why they loved their community. They were one of five winners of the award.

“Thanks for letting us help,” said Teen president Lucie White. “Most places ignore teens, you don’t.”