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    Letters to the Editors

    Let commission set height rules

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 31, 2002

    Clearwater Commissioner Bill Jonson had an excellent idea to have controversial height rules on Clearwater Beach made by elected, rather than appointed, officials. Unfortunately, your recent editorial (Why change who decides on tall buildings? Jan. 10) opposed his idea, and a 3-2 City Commission vote later rejected it.

    Regardless of how I personally feel about tall buildings on Clearwater Beach, I strongly believe that height rules that will have a major impact on the future of our city should always be decided by elected commissioners.

    I base my opinion on 10 years' experience from the mid 1980s until early 1999 on Clearwater quasijudicial boards (planning and zoning, development code adjustment board). Such complex decisions should be made in the full spotlight of the political arena after thorough study and discussion, and they should be made by those subject to voters.

    This is not a new idea. When our controversial sign code was being implemented a few years ago, the commissioners in office at that time wisely decided that they, rather than appointed board members, should make the tough decisions about signs.

    I respect the members of the community development board, having served on other boards with several of them. But since our new city code calls for them to be appointed with backgrounds in architecture, development, land use law, etc., they are influenced to some degree by their professional commitments. Commissioners, on the other hand, are chosen citywide, with varied backgrounds, and they have city staff experts on call to fully advise them on technical matters.

    I might not agree in full with the final decisions a majority of our commissioners make regarding tall buildings on Clearwater Beach, but I'm convinced that they should be the ones who decide what our beach should be in the future.
    -- Bill Schwob, Clearwater

    Don't let special interests set building height rules

    Re: Commission will avoid height fights, story, Jan. 11.

    I congratulate Clearwater Commissioner Bill Jonson for taking a positive stand representing the feelings of the residents of Clearwater and not that of special interests. This whole concept of Beach by Design represents the interests of Realtors and special interests whose sole purpose is personal profits.

    The Community Development Board is composed solely of architects, lawyers and builders whose incomes depend on construction profits and who could be personally involved in construction of those buildings more than 100 feet tall.

    The final decision on matters bending development rules on the beach should be made by the commissioners, who are accountable to the residents of Clearwater and not to special interests.

    Let us not convert Clearwater Beach into another Sand Key.
    -- Charles G. Chigas, Clearwater

    International newspaper's take on roundabout is embarrassing

    We should all be embarrassed by the Jan. 18, front-page Wall Street Journal article regarding Clearwater's infamous roundabout. Clearwater can ill afford the negative publicity generated by such a well-respected international business publication.

    When Wall Street starts laughing, it's a bigger problem than we thought. It's no wonder the local media outlets failed to mention the Journal's slap in our face. Their lack of commentary speaks volumes.
    -- Dan Moore, Clearwater

    How to reduce apathy among Largo's residents

    Re: Candidates remain ho-hum on forum, story, Jan. 13.

    As a former Largo city commissioner and vice mayor who decided not to run again after a decade of service ending in 1995, I must state that the apathy and "ho-hum" attitude existed then, prior thereto and ever since.

    I think that rather than have the city manager, the mayor or any other persons closely identified with the city placed in what may be viewed by some as a delicate or questioned position, that an ad hoc committee be formed out of a list of concerned citizens who want to serve. I suggest that from that list each commissioner, the mayor and possibly the city manager select a person, thereby forming a committee of eight.

    This committee could then be provided with a list of questions covering current issues, existing programs and future planning and/or developments, where they might be placed and some ideas as to costs or estimates. These questions could then be presented to each candidate for election. Their answers should be made known at appropriately advertised meetings. The public would have an opportunity to observe each candidate and their knowledge of the issues.

    This continuing apathy, lack of participation and pathetic voting record in the city of Largo -- the lowest in the county, I believe (often 6 percent or less) -- out of a registered voting populace of about 48,000 people simply must not and cannot persist. Effective, informed representatives and the welfare of the general public in the fair city of Largo can only be served by having a vigorous, fair and totally informed public and educated and vibrant candidates.

    The media and other proactive groups must take an active and positive position in all of these important areas.
    -- Edwin I. "Ned" Ford, Largo

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