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Neighborhood notebook

Ballast Point: Residents approve guidelines for change

The 17-page plan designed to steer decisions affecting the neighborhood must go before the City Council.

By SHERRI DAY
Published October 29, 2004

After three years of strategizing, Ballast Point finally has a neighborhood plan.

Community residents and business owners voted 46-5 last week to accept the Ballast Point planning board's recommendations for protecting the area's ambience, character and quality of life.

The 17-page document, which will serve as a guide for decisions affecting the neighborhood, will now go before the City Council for approval.

"We've gotten several e-mails and phone calls that are very positive and feel like the neighborhood is going to be better served having the plan in place," said Jerry Miller, chairman of the planning board.

Formed in September 2001, the board mailed more than 2,000 surveys to residents and businesses seeking feedback on how to enhance the area. About 480 people responded, Miller said, commenting on issues from noise to street widening. The planning board took four months to tabulate the surveys and completed the project in April, delaying their formal presentation until after summer vacations and hurricane season.

The plan focuses on six areas, including transportation, environmental protection, parks and recreation, and infrastructure. Suggestions include limiting traffic on Ballast Point streets by avoiding street widening and lowering speed limits. Residents also want to construct sidewalks throughout the neighborhood, particularly along Bayshore Boulevard south of Gandy Boulevard.

Also included in the plan are calls for restricting new Ballast Point developments to three stories. To accomplish this, the plan suggests creating a special overlay district that would prohibit tall buildings and oversized signs. "There's some good development going on, and I think we just need to encourage it," said Melanie Higgins, past president of the Ballast Point Civic Association.

Miller says the Ballast Point plan differs from other neighborhood plans because it outlines how the community plans to fulfill its goals. Where it recommends developing Gadsden Park, for example, the plan says the community will organize a lobbying effort to fund improvements.

"It's not so much a wish list," Miller said. "It's something the community has adopted, and the community has now placed a burden on themselves. It's a very hard-nosed plan in that regard."

- Sherri Day can be reached at 226-3405 or sday@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 28, 2004, 14:57:26]

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