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Residents say marina plan means gambling is likely

By NICOLE BARDO-COLON
Published July 1, 2007


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A proposal to reconfigure the Tierra Verde Marina has residents up in arms about the possibility that it will bring a shuttle to an offshore gambling boat.

Tierra Verde Marina submitted an application to the Pinellas County Water and Navigation Control Authority to reduce the number of boat slips. The application will go before the County Commission on July 10.

Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ronnie Duncan said the two issues are not related.

"This has nothing to do with the supposed gambling or cruise ship out there somewhere, " he said. "That will be a separate application."

He said the marina owners will need a conditional permit to operate a gambling boat or a shuttle to the boat.

"This is a very bad thing, " said Arthur Zelenak, publisher of the Island Reporter, Tierra Verde's community newspaper. "We have major traffic problems in that corner."

He said he is concerned because a parking lot was recently built that can accommodate 300 cars in the vicinity.

Frank Lauro, administrator for the Tierra Verde Community Association, said he is also worried about the goals of the marina's most recent request.

"If the ultimate end use is to operate a gambling ship or a shuttle, I am against it, " Lauro said.

He said they already have traffic problems to and from the island and the intersection at Madonna Boulevard and Pinellas Bayway is "one of the most dangerous intersections around." The marina is at Madonna and the Bayway.

Duncan said that with the application now before them, there will not be additional traffic on the island.

However, Coner Petren, environmental specialist with Pinellas County Environmental Management, said several residents expressed concerns over the gambling boat.

He said they were not aware of Tierra Verde Marina Holdings LLC's intentions when it originally submitted an application for the reconfiguration of the marina.

Petren also said his department contacted Bill Woods from Woods Consulting, who prepared the application for the marina, and asked about plans to run a shuttle to a gambling boat offshore.

In response, Woods wrote an e-mail to David Walker, environmental program manager for Environmental Management, after he spoke with his clients.

"The Tierra Verde Marina is planning to berth one or more shuttle craft which will service an offshore gambling vessel, " Woods said in his e-mail.

"The owners are aware that the Pinellas County Comprehensive Land Use Code has certain requirements that must be met in order to berth a shuttle craft, including the requirement to obtain a Conditional Use."

In another e-mail to Walker, reference was made to two or three 80-foot shuttles carrying passengers in and out.

Petren said his department recommended that the Board of County Commissioners approve the application to reconfigure the marina. If approved, the marina would have 96 boat slips instead of the current 110.

Richard Frabrizi, whose name is on the application along with Tierra Verde Marina Holdings LLC, declined to comment when contacted by a Times reporter.

Nicole Bardo-Colon can be reached at 893-8779 or nbardo-colon@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 30, 2007, 23:51:04]


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