SEMINOLE — Homeowners that live next to the former Tides Golf Club have filed an appeal against Pinellas County’s decision to issue a demolition permit to the property’s owners, the Tides Development Group.
Steve and Colleen Dannemiller, supporters of the group Save the Tides, filed their appeal June 27. Save the Tides is a community organization dedicated to fighting the development of the green space.
TDG plans to demolish the former clubhouse on the property. At the June 18 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Blake Lyon, the county’s director of building and development review services, said there were recently two code enforcement violations on the property.
“One in respect to growth of vegetation, the second minimum housing (standards),” he said.
With the clubhouse “falling into disrepair,” he said TDG was given two options: repair the clubhouse and bring it to code compliance or demolish it.
The Tides’ owners shut down the golf course in June 2018.
In a notice to club members, the owners said, “After enduring Hurricane Irma and the ensuing cleanup, the club has seen a continued decrease in activity. Due to the lack of support from the golfing community, the owners have made the decision to close operations … A golf course at this location is not a viable business.”
TDG hopes to rezone and redevelop the property as a single-family home subdivision. Save the Tides has organized to try to prevent that from happening.
At the June 18 meeting, Dan Hott, a member of Save the Tides, spoke about the importance of the Tides clubhouse.
“It was a place where residents, visitors, a lot of tourists, friends, neighbors and families shared stories and created memories that will last a lifetime,” he said.
“The Tides clubhouse was more than just a clubhouse,” he added, noting its historical, social and cultural significance.
The Dannemillers also spoke at the meeting, citing environmental concerns should the structure be demolished.
Steve Dannemiller spoke about “potential asbestos in the clubhouse and hazardous waste” on the property.
Lyon said that the contractor hired to demolish the building is required to conduct an asbestos survey and submit it to the air quality department. That survey has not yet been conducted.
Meanwhile, Colleen Dannemiller said that because the Tides’ owners haven’t been maintaining a drainage easement on the property despite an agreement with the county saying they would, flooding could be an issue in the future.
“Where are the penalties? Where is the accountability to us, the people who actually pay their taxes?” she asked in reference to the fact that at the time of the meeting, the property’s owners were not up-to-date on its property taxes.
Lyon said that the county couldn’t deny TDG’s demolition permit because according to the county’s zoning ordinance, all property owners have certain rights.
“The clubhouse was allowed to be built on that property,” he said. “The property owners have the right to take it down.”
County Administrator Barry Burton added, “You have to look at it legally, and from an emotional standpoint, it doesn’t matter. If they have a right to build a fence, they have a right to build that fence, and if we simply denied it based on fact that we don’t like them, we don’t like what they’re doing or any other thing, they simply would appeal that to court and it would be overturned.”
Issuing the demolition permit is “a standalone action separate and apart from any subsequent action that the property owners might take on that property,” such as a land use or zoning change, Lyon added.
“To pre-judge, predetermine or deny an issuance of the demolition permit on something that hasn’t even occurred yet, which is an application for rezoning, would show some prejudice on my part and put us, in my opinion, in a much more negative place,” he said.
During the meeting, Pinellas County attorney Jewel White said TDG’s attorney, Joel Tew, emailed her as the meeting was taking place to inform her that the developers planned to submit a rezoning application for the property by the end of this month.
Deanna Loew, the public relations specialist for TDG, said in an email that she could not comment on the appeal of the demolition permit, how the drainage easement will be maintained or when the company planned to file a rezoning application for the property.
She said TDG is currently caught up on its property taxes, though.
“We can let you know that the property taxes for the former Tides Golf Course property were paid the day that my client was made aware of the oversight, which actually occurred before the county commission meeting where the property taxes were mentioned,” she said.