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Tarpon focuses Safford vision

After a construction moratorium expires in October, planners want the street to have a "Main Street" quality with a combination of uses.

Published August 14, 2005

TARPON SPRINGS - In a little more than a month, a ban on construction in an area of town ripe for redevelopment is set to expire.

City officials are pulling together a plan to follow once that happens.

In April, the City Commission implemented a six-month moratorium on development along Safford Avenue while they came up with a vision for the milelong stretch of Safford between Live Oak Street and Meres Blvd.

"We were getting a lot of inquiries about redevelopment in that area, so we wanted to step back enough to get some cohesive ideas in place," said Renea Vincent, Tarpon planning director. "We wanted to have a good urban pattern in that area as it redevelops."

The city held a series of public hearings last month for community members and public officials to give voice to their vision for the street.

While details are not final, planners say they want the street to have a "Main Street" quality with a combination of uses.

The street would be developed in designated sections:

Live Oak Street to Athens Street would be mainly residential.

Athens to Orange Street would be offices and shops.

Orange to Boyer Street would be designated for historic and civic uses.

Boyer to Meres Boulevard would be a mixture of commercial and residential uses.

"We're trying to incorporate community and businesses," said Mayor Beverley Billiris. "We want more urbanization, something that everyone that lives around those streets can be a part of."

Plans to make Safford Avenue a bustling urban center may sound like a way to connect the community, but at least one business owner is afraid the revitalization will leave them out.

Paul and Darlene Liparoto have operated Pinellas Auto Radiator and A/C Inc. for 20 years. The building at 209 E. Lemon St. was a former lumber yard.

Revitalization along Safford Avenue will mean new zoning classifications that they fear aren't likely to include an auto repair shop.

That means if the Liparotos' business were physically damaged, they wouldn't be able to rebuild under the street's revised zoning.

"I know they don't want this type of business, because it doesn't fit," said Paul Liparoto. "And I understand that, but at the same time I did pay thousands in impact fees to get this building up and going.

"To pay all that and to say you've got to move if your place burns down is not a good thing."

Billiris said the revised ordinances will feature a clause that allows businesses destroyed by "acts of God" to rebuild to their former use. Those acts include hurricanes and tornadoes, "but if they lose their business from a fire or if they tear down most of the structure, then that's something different," she said.

Vincent said city staff would present a list of recommendations and plans for Safford Avenue to the commissioners in September. The moratorium is set to expire in October.

[Last modified August 14, 2005, 00:53:19]

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