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Regulations to be revamped to suit town's urban vision

Redington Shores wants its land development rules rewritten with new "urban design guidelines" as their foundation.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published April 17, 2005


REDINGTON SHORES - Seven months from now, the town hopes to implement new zoning and building regulations governing the type, size, height and architectural design of new construction within its borders.

Redington Shores town officials don't believe that their community will experience the same level of intense debate and political controversy in other nearby beach communities, such as Treasure Island or St. Pete Beach.

This is because, according to Mayor J.J. Beyrouti, many residents were involved in a visioning process that started in 2000 and resulted the 2004 commission's unanimous approval of "urban design guidelines" - the foundation of the new land development regulations (LDRs).

"Our residents have supported this from the beginning. We are content with what we have and we want to preserve the livability of our town. We set out on a mission to make changes so that we would not be just another beach community. It's very exciting that it is now taking place," Beyrouti said as the commission voted Tuesday to approve paying up to $25,000 to the Pinellas Planning Council (PPC) to rewrite its LDRs.

During the seven-month process, the PPC will review the town's urban design guidelines and its existing codes to recommend changes that would align the two.

Working closely with the town's planning and zoning board, the PPC will specifically examine the town's building regulations, subdivision of land, zoning codes, and landscaping requirements.

"We'll dig in and sort out what the code has," said Mike Crawford of the PPC. "We'll use your urban design guidelines as the starting concept and apply them to anything dealing with buildings, landscaping, setbacks and property use."

The goal of the town's Urban Design Guidelines is to create a "pedestrian-friendly, aesthetically coherent" environment that is "a desirable place to live, work and play."

The guidelines focus on four "core" issues: public space; mixed use of buildings and property; enhancing street activities, particularly along Gulf Boulevard, through streetscaping, traffic calming and architectural design; and general architectural aesthetics of any new construction.

The guidelines are in essence overlay zones that encourage (or discourage) certain kinds of activities and building in particular areas of the town through special requirements for those zones.

For instance, guidelines for buildings fronting on Gulf Boulevard or within 100 feet of the right-of-way would operate in addition to or instead of regular zoning/building requirements. They affect such issues as placement of buildings on lots, structure heights and widths, relationships to adjacent buildings, parking and landscaping.

For example, the guidelines call for all buildings along Gulf Boulevard to have arcades, galleries, porches or awnings, and all buildings taller than two stories to have balconies at upper levels.

All Gulf Boulevard buildings also would be required to include street front retail, restaurant, commercial, civic or other non-residential space on the ground floor, instead of only parking.

Maximum building heights along Gulf Boulevard would be increased (from 35 feet to up to 52 feet) providing the fourth story is recessed from the street front.

Generally, the new LDRs would put into law the concepts discussed in the urban design guidelines.

Once the PPC completes its preliminary draft of the new LDRs - expected by late January - there will be a series of public meetings for the commission and residents to present their comments.

The final draft, expected sometime in June, will go through the same process, and then be submitted as a formal ordinance, again with full public hearings.

[Last modified April 17, 2005, 00:25:16]


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