Seminole council probes plan to clear blockage of major artery by fast-food traffic

Seminole residents are likely used to seeing long lines at the Chick-fil-A at 10790 Park Blvd. In an effort to decrease congestion, the City Council agreed to have staff negotiate a development agreement for improvements to the Chick-fil-A and the adjacent Dairy Queen.

SEMINOLE — Starting the slow process to reconfigure two fast-food parking lots, the City Council agreed to have staff negotiate a development agreement for improvements to a Chick-fil-A at 10790 Park Blvd. and an adjacent Dairy Queen.

The council took the first step in that process during an April 12 workshop session by airing details of a proposal to alter drive-thru configurations at the site. That’s deemed necessary to ease customer congestion coming into the Chick-fil-A from Park Boulevard, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

“It also provides increased access to the Dairy Queen,” said Mark Ely, the city’s director of community development.

Expanded parking is also proposed as part of the improvements, which got a thumbs-up consensus of the council to advance to negotiations of a development agreement.

During the night’s main session, council members voted unanimously, after a second reading, to adopt a new anti-panhandling ordinance, which City Attorney Jay Daigneault said meshes better with current case law.

Under the new ordinance, only “aggressive panhandling” in places such as city events will be prohibited.

Other final actions included a unanimous vote to annex an unincorporated county tract at 11241 105th Ave. N., and another to finalize the grandfathered approval of Seminole Gardens condominiums, 8275 113th St. N., despite its excess unit numbers under current city regulations.

Library board seats

The council voted unanimously to reappoint Seminole resident Patricia Haynes to the Seminole library advisory board, and it also heard from an applicant for an open seat on the library board — Seminole resident Raymond Beliveau, a retired engineer.

“Retirement means time to give back,” Beliveau said.

Council members heard from Beliveau during the workshop session and signaled their consensus agreement to vote on his proposed appointment at an upcoming regular session.

Other proposed actions heard on first readings included the voluntary annexation of a property at 11211 69th Ave. N., currently unincorporated county land; tweaks to the city’s comprehensive plan maps; and amendments to update the comprehensive plan to include property rights and water supply elements, as required by state law.

Council also authorized the city attorney to file a legal action against the owner of a property located at 10990 Nina St. for alleged city code violations.

Burke backs annexations

Noting the regular trickle of voluntary annexation requests that continue to come before Council, council member Chris Burke told Tampa Bay Newspapers after the meeting he’d like to see the city’s boundaries greatly expanded by a flood of such requests.

A Largo police officer with retirement in his sights next year, Burke recently joined a crowded GOP primary field in state House District 59 race, only to pull out of the contest five days later. In announcing his withdrawal, Burke said he decided he could best help the community from his berth on council.

Speaking to Tampa Bay Newspapers, Burke noted he and his elected colleagues were recently briefed on a number of interesting city initiatives that will tap into county and federal revenue streams.

“We have a lot of exciting things coming up, and I don’t want to leave a winning team,” he said with a wide grin.

Burke said he hasn’t made any new job plans for when he leaves the police department. But he intends to spend some of the time afforded by retirement pitching the benefits of voluntary annexation to county-land homeowners with Seminole postal addresses.

“I’m going to go door to door as soon as I have the time,” Burke said.

A member of the Seminole council since 2012, Burke was sworn in for a new three-year council term in January after running for reelection unopposed 

Annual retreat

Council held its annual retreat at Seminole Community Library on April 2. The meeting was an open work session to hash out options in a select number of policy areas, with no actual votes or formal action taken.

Items under discussion during the half-day retreat included traffic control along Park and Seminole boulevards, the city’s most traffic-laden roadways; preliminary discussions ahead of work on a Recreation Department master plan; development of a city strategic plan; and possible City Hall renovations or expansion.

Council members also heard proposals from Finance Director Allison Broihier about how to distribute local revenue anticipated via the county’s Penny for Pinellas fund and the federal America Rescue Plan Act.

As proposed, the city’s pavement management plan would top expenditures at more than $1.5 million. Several other proposed uses include spending almost $578,388 on Waterfront Park improvements and $256,304 on stormwater system repairs.

Prior to the latest regular council meeting, council members met for 40 minutes in executive session, the second closed-door huddle to discuss negotiating strategy in the city’s contract talks with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2896.

The parties have met three times since the contract talks began in January. Council made no comment on the talks after exiting the latest executive session.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 6 p.m. April 26.