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Beach condo projects advance

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Development teams get their first official reactions from Clearwater planners in a series of work sessions.By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published August 6, 2005CLEARWATER – Patti Stough was laying into a city engineer and planner, holding up their own design manual, wondering if they understood any of what it said.It had already been a long day in a cramped conference room, but Stough wasn’t leaving until her point was made clear, even if the engineer and planner had heard it before.“The city,” started Stough, known professionally as Patti the Architect, “is picking and choosing what it takes out of Beach by Design,” referring to the city’s planning document.The planner, Wayne Wells, had just told Stough, a developer’s architect, that the city would not support her design for a five-unit, 54-foot-tall condominium on East Shore Drive.Development teams that rushed forward slews of condominium projects for Clearwater Beach last month received their first official reactions from city planners Thursday and Friday in a series of joint work sessions. Overall, it was a mixed bag.Uday Lele, hoping to build a 90-unit condominium called Enchantment, left with a smile.John Landon, an engineer working on Venetian Sands, a much smaller project, knew his deal was in jeopardy.In Stough’s case, Wells explained that the East Shore lot was too small (50 feet wide) for her project. The area was the last portion of the beach to be redeveloped.And the city was going to be picky.“The city has received a lot of criticism on parts of the beach, especially along Brightwater Drive,” said Wells. “We’re not going to make the same mistakes (here).”“I take offense to that,” said Stough, who happened to design some of those “mistakes.”“We did specifically what Beach by Design asked for,” she said.The back-and-forth was unusual for the typically dry meetings filled with discussion about stormwater, sight triangles and the like. Engineering stuff.Here was a more common exchange Thursday:City planner: “The prior project had greater movement and detailing. This property presents a more flat facade with less detailing.”Attorney: “We think we’ve addressed that.”Developer: “The front pops out now.”Attorney: “We have made an attempt to respond to the “box-like’ comment. We’ve created a building with more articulation.”At one point, city land development engineer Scott Rice joked builders should add an “accel and decel lane” to their development, a reference to an additional traffic lane.The room erupted in laughter.Engineering stuff.The meetings, which include several city staffers and the development team, are meant to work out inconsistencies and omissions in development applications. At the end of each session, the project is categorized as sufficient or insufficient.Sufficient means a development can now head to the city’s Community Development Board.Insufficient pushes a project back a month on the schedule.And in the case of 10 beach condominium proposals, being called insufficient would have derailed plans altogether because of new rules that change how developers can convert hotels into condominiums.All the beach projects, though, even Stough’s, were ruled sufficient.Without a setback, they now head before the Community Development Board on Sept. 20.Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 445-4160 or asharockman@sptimes.comSource: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/06/Northpinellas/Beach_condo_projects_.shtml
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