tampabay.com

Mobile homes start squabble

By RITA FARLOW
Published April 25, 2007


The placement of two mobile homes on vacant land just outside Largo's city limits is causing a stir in the city.

The two parcels in question are on Braginton Street, just off Clearwater-Largo Road. While much of the north side of the small, tree-lined street is in unincorporated Pinellas County, the south side and all surrounding property is part of Largo.

The dispute goes back to late December, when county code enforcement officials said they got the first complaint about the mobile homes, which are not occupied.

Property owner Andrew Schiller said he allowed the homes' owner to move them to his land to be stored.

Amy King, who lives across the street from the property, said the mobile homes are unsightly because they sit lengthwise on the property and don't face the street.

"If they want to turn one around and set it back from the street the way it's supposed to be, we have no problem with that, and we told them so," she said.

King, who is trying to sell her home, said she fears the mobile homes may be deterring potential buyers.

"If that was across the street when I bought this house, I probably wouldn't have bought it," she said.

Now Schiller has requested the land be rezoned to allow the mobile homes to stay, but Largo officials and neighbors contend the site isn't suited to multiple mobile homes and want the county to deny the request.

Largo officials say the land is an enclave to the city and that rezoning to allow for mobile homes is inconsistent with the city's plans for redeveloping the Clearwater-Largo Road corridor.

"We're looking at it long term," said Michael Staffopoulos, the city's community development director. "We view this area as part of the future of our redevelopment district."

Further, the mobile homes were put on the property without the proper zoning and without a building permit, Staffopoulos said.

"You don't change the land use requirements because someone didn't follow the rules or permitting procedures," he said.

Schiller also has requested a variance so the mobile homes can stay where they are, with their sides facing Braginton Street. County code specifies that mobile homes should front the street in a way that's consistent with houses built in the area.

Pinellas County zoning manager John Cueva said county staff was still reviewing the variance request, which would allow the mobile homes to be put closer to the street than the rules normally allow.

Cueva said county staff will recommend the land be zoned either residential or mobile home subdivision, because those designations most closely match the mix of single-family homes and mobile homes nearby.

But Largo officials say the parcels - which together measure less than half an acre - don't meet the minimum requirements for mobile home subdivisions of 10 acres.

Schiller bought the property, along with the Gulf Breeze Mobile Home Park on Braginton, in 2002 and announced a plan to redevelop the area with steel modular homes.

On Tuesday, he declined to say what the status of that plan was.

Schiller said he followed county procedure by requesting the rezoning and variance. The issue does not involve the city, he said, because his property is in unincorporated Pinellas.

Schiller said the mobile homes are being stored on the property until the county rules on his request.

In the meantime, he said, he has worked hard to clean up the area, including the nearby Gulf Breeze Mobile Home Park, which he also owns.

"I work hard here," he said. "I'm not a slum landlord or something."

If you go

County Commission

The Pinellas County Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing regarding the Braginton Street property at 6:30 p.m. June 19 in the county assembly room on the fifth floor of the County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.