Friends of Pass-a-Grille wants to make something clear: They don’t want to destroy any single project, and they bear no ill will against anyone in the community. Rather, the not-for-profit wishes to maintain “mass and scale of building” in Pass-a-Grille and to give the Historic Board the ability to review plans for historic 8th Avenue. Bev Jackson, a former St. Pete Beach commissioner and one of the 12 leading members of Friends of Pass-a-Grille, explains it simply: mass and scale means a two-story building next to several 50-story skyscrapers would not fit downtown St. Pete’s character, and a 50-foot building between two-story buildings would look out of place in Pass-a-Grille.
“We’re here to be your friends; we’re not here to be adversarial. We want to work together with you to change the land development codes, review and change the land development codes so that we can maintain our character, mass, and scale,” Jackson, said.
Jackson, who also serves on Pass-a-Grille’s planning and zoning board, detailed her involvement with the not-for-profit with The Gabber.
“I live here in Pass-a- Grille, obviously, and they’re building this really big house, very close to me, and I looked at that one day, [when] I was talking to my neighbor, and I said, ‘Oh you realize you’re not going to see the sun after about 12 o’clock, one o’ clock, in the afternoon’.”
Affected by this, Jackson used her position on the planning and zoning board to notify fellow members of her concerns.
“I said, ‘If this is what land development codes are allowing, we might need to rethink that’,” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, section 40.8 of the land development codes (CRDAE) written in 2008, stated: buildings should not exceed 35 feet.
“In theory, like I said, we thought we put the right ordinances and land development codes in place,” Jackson mentioned that this clause does not account for the extra 12 feet FEMA requires for safety, or elevator shafts; meaning buildings could legally stand up to (or over) 50 feet.
For a community with most buildings between 28 and 30 feet, some Pass-a-Grille residents saw this as an issue. So, to preserve Pass-a-Grille’s character, Jackson said Friends of Pass-a-Grille came to fruition.
Since its formation last fall, Friends of Pass-a-Grille have held public meetings, attended city commission meetings, and met with the historic board.
Friends of Pass-a-Grille will host public historic preservation workshops in partnerships with the City beginning Mar. 3 at 1 p.m. These meetings will involve architects and planners for a transparent dialogue.