Residents not ‘buying’ beach development

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Originally published for the Beach Beacon online May 31, 2016 in the printed edition on June 2, 2016.

Madeira Beach City Commission took action on May 10, as reported by Mr. Ayers, to allow rezoning for major developments spanning from the western end of the Tom Stuart Causeway to Gulf Boulevard.

The meeting seemed to be orchestrated to favor an approval for the rezoning. Green T-shirts labeled “Say Yes” were handed to attendees as they entered the building.

It is unclear who the Minister of Propaganda was, but many T-shirt wearers admitted to being nonresidents. The opposition to the rezoning was mostly residents who are concerned that the traffic situation, already dangerous at both ends of town, would see exacerbation.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, local drivers and tourists are exposed to risky situations daily. This fact was glossed over and the city manager repeatedly pledged to phase the plan to allow reassessing of the traffic situation. If traffic is a problem, what happens to the construction project?

The city and developer’s experts emphasize that the plan is in accord with existing structures. While this may be true, it is misleading since there are very few 11-story buildings in Madeira Beach. And while the density meets current guidelines almost to the last digit, it leaves little room for error.

Yes, “this largest combined development in the city’s history” has raised concern for perilous traffic problems, water usage, infrastructure rebuilds, power grid expansion, trash accrual and disposal. Yet no talk of the environmental impact on land, sea and air creatures who live and use these two fragile eco-sensitive parcels. Where is that study?

Image of Flooded Streets

When emergency evacuation was mentioned, the city’s response was we will have “days” to prepare.

In 2004 when Hurricane Charley made an unpredicted turn and hit Punta Gorda instead of the Tampa Bay area, the afflicted residents had only a few hours notice! This development will snarl traffic, impede veterans’ and visitors’ travel, jam the Tom Stuart Causeway bridge, and put residents of existing condos in danger as they attempt to exit their communities onto 150th Avenue. What is the commission thinking?

Tourist dollars are projected to be in excess of millions according to unsubstantiated figures. Residents do not trust what is being presented. There is an uprising of citizens wanting to halt the plan and force the developers and the city to rethink the scope, size and density of it. We have been offered some pretty artist renderings of impressive buildings and landscape plantings. We’re promised huge mounds of coin for the city treasury. We are not buying it. The voters will decide what is in the “best interests of the city.”

Gerri Clyatt
Madeira Beach

Article published on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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