BELLEAIR — Town commissioners unanimously approved a request July 16 by the Pelican Golf Club to add a third cottage to its property on Indian Rocks Road.
The cottage, which will contain 12 guest rooms, will be built near two previously approved cottages that have eight guest rooms each. The cottages are for the use of club members and their guests.
Attorney Tom Nash, representing the Doyle family, owners of the club, addressed some of the issues regarding the new addition and the overall construction of the club. Many residents attended a Planning and Zoning meeting previously and let their concerns be known.
“We have heard very few complaints and those we have we’ve moved quickly to rectify the matters,” he said. “There are rumors that the club is building a hotel on the site; nothing is further from the truth.”
Nash went on to explain how the cottages are different from a hotel or motel.
“There are no cooking facilities in the rooms and there is no adjacent parking. Guests will have to either walk to the cottages or take a golf cart,” he said. “The cottages are only for the use of the club members and their guests and there is no third-party booking. The cost of a stay is billed directly to the member and the maximum length of stay is one week.”
Nash said the club decided to add a third cottage because it was able to acquire more land, another two acres, that allowed them to add the third building.
“With the extra land it now means that the density of the area has been reduced to 6.9 units per acre from nine units, even with the new building,” he said.
The town hall was packed with residents and it was clear the majority were in favor of the Doyles’ plan.
One resident who wasn’t so sure was Tom Olson, chairman of the town’s Finance Board. He was concerned with the change of zoning for the property.
“By using it as recreation it can permit housing,” he said. “The town and the Doyles had agreed there would be no housing. This is housing on the golf course and what is to prevent more housing?”
Town Manager J.P. Murphy said the easement that prevents housing from being built pertains to the golf course itself and not to the new property adjacent to the course.
“They are not subject to the easement and they are not in violation of the agreement,” he said.
Resident Nicole Foley spoke in favor of the project and relayed what most people who spoke in favor had to say.
“I do not feel this is a negative in any way,” she said. “It is good for our community. I live in that neighborhood and I don’t feel like it is a negative.”
“I am 100% in favor of the plan, it is far better than what was there before,” said resident Kevin Connelly.
In order to get approval for the new cottage the club owners had to get a number of variances. The land use agreement had to be modified, and a zoning change had to happen.
Also included in the variances was a change in the setback along Indian Rocks Road. Approval was given to changing the setback from 25 feet to 5 feet, which means a decorative fence or wall will be erected 5 feet in from the sidewalk instead of 25 feet. Right now, a high hedge obscures the view of the construction site. That hedge will eventually be removed.
Nash made it clear that the residents are in for another year of construction. That came after a woman complained that the noise was so loud her child could not take a nap.
“One morning before 7 a.m. it was so loud it shook my house,” she said.
James McArthur, a Belleair resident, said they should look at the big picture.
“We should pay attention to what the Doyles have done,” he said. “They are preserving green space and improving our quality of life. They are building for the future and to do that we have to put up with some inconveniences.”
The two-hour meeting to deal with the Pelican request ended after getting unanimous agreement and a comment from Mayor Gary Katica.
“It is nice to officiate over an event where more people are happy,” he said. “And to those who are not happy we’ll make you happy.”
With that, the room emptied even though there were two minor issues regarding the Pelican on the agenda.
In other news
• Commissioners approved the millage rate for the coming fiscal year.
The rate has been set at 6.5 mills. Further budget discussions can lower that rate but not increase it.
A full budget workshop will be held Aug. 8 at 4 p.m.
• Commissioners held back on providing owners of historic properties in town with special medallions. There are 27 such properties on the historic registry.
The medallions would signify the historic significance of the property and be mounted outside on the home.
Commissioners liked the idea and agreed with it but were reluctant to foot the bill for the medallions. They decided to see if the homeowners of the properties would pay for it themselves. If not, they will discuss it again.
The medallions, made of bronze, would measure 6 by 8 inches and cost $210 each.