Panel rejects permit for Pine Island B&B
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
PINE ISLAND -- Thomas Faust had hoped to bring this tiny gulf island's beauty to tourists seeking quiet respite from the bustling Tampa Bay area.
"I would like people to be able to share the sunset as well as the sunrise," Faust explained as his reason for seeking to open a 10-unit bed and breakfast just north of Pine Island Park.
His neighbors had other things in mind Monday as they successfully fought his petition for a special use permit from the county Planning and Zoning Commission.
"It is a residential area, a strictly residential area but for the park," 16-year resident Patricia Barwick told the board. "I'd like to see it remain that way."
Barwick argued that the advent of a bed and breakfast could mark a change in the small, close-knit waterfront community. Neighbors would end up policing adherence to the permit requirements, she contended, and the public interest would not be served.
Murray Landsman, another neighbor, worried about the lack of security that might accompany nonresidents who stay on the island after the public park closes. "We have very few break-ins," he said, "because we all know each other."
About 24 like-minded of the island's 64 residents showed up to oppose the permit. They stated their concerns about neighborhood compatibility, septic tank loads, traffic congestion, and problems with trash and unkempt land under Faust's absentee ownership.
Planning board members took their side.
"First of all, the lot is too small for the on-site sewage disposal system," member Anthony Palmieri said. "I also feel the area is very congested during the summer months. The required use will add congestion. . . . I really cannot support your petition for various reasons."
The sewage disposal issue caught the attention of members Anna Liisa Covell and Nick Nicholson, as well. Nicholson recommended the land not be further developed unless and until the county extends sewer lines to the island, to avoid harming the coastal ecology.
"With all the problems we've brought up here, I just don't think it's a good location for a bed and breakfast, or a small motel," Vice Chairman Al Sevier said.
Sevier made the motion to deny the permit, which the board unanimously supported. The only way Faust can win a reprieve is if the County Commission decides to reconsider the planning board's decision within 30 days.
In other action, the planning board elected member Bob Dewitt as its new chairman. Nicholson and Palmieri, the outgoing chairman, opposed the nomination because Dewitt's term expires in less than two months.
County commissioners extended Dewitt's term, which ended Dec. 31, through February while they determine the future design of the planning board. A proposal is pending to revise powers and procedures, which could lead to the dissolution of the Planning and Zoning Commission in its current incarnation.
The board also selected Sevier, whose term also ends in February, as its vice chairman.
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