The St. Pete Beach comprehensive plan took another step forward at the St. Pete Beach City Commission meeting on February 24. After discussion by attorneys representing residents and hoteliers of St. Pete Beach, the resolution was adopted and approved, and the ordinance was adopted on first reading.
During the meeting, St. Pete Beach Mayor Maria Lowe emphasized the cooperation between the city and the petitioners, who reached a settlement earlier this month after a series of meetings and discussions about changes to the current version of the city’s redevelopment rules.
The legal battles between a group of residents and the city of St. Pete Beach have lasted a decade, cost the city millions of dollars and halted development. The adoption of the new plan paves the way for redevelopment with stipulations. The day after the settlement was reached, a principal beachfront hotel property sold. The Postcard Inn, 6300 Gulf Blvd., a former Travelodge turned kitschy beach hotel in 2009, was purchased by an as-yet-undisclosed investor.
Previously negotiated changes to the plan included in the agreement are the reduction in the height allowed for hotel redevelopment, setting new limits for setbacks, the restriction of redevelopment adjacent to residential areas and the requirement that infrastructure studies be performed before any major redevelopment occurs.
“Maximum density is an issue still being looked at, and is contingent upon studies,” said St. Pete Beach City Planner Chelsey Welden. “Once settled, there will not be as much uncertainty, and the area will be more of a viable place to develop.”
A final vote is scheduled for March 9, the day before the St. Pete Beach general election and, if approved, the plan will be sent for state review. Hotel owners and residents will then have a 15-day period to request any changes to the proposed plan.