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Council must vote again on Hyde Park rezoning
By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
Published December 15, 2007
TAMPA - The future of Hyde Park Village rests on City Council member Charlie Miranda's shoulders.
Absent for health reasons, he missed Thursday night's seven-hour City Council meeting, which was supposed to determine whether to allow rezoning of the 10-acre outdoor shopping hub to allow 163 condominiums and expanded retail space.
He did not hear the five hours of public comments or the struggles among his five fellow council members, who split 3-2 in favor of allowing the $100-million project. A City Council decision takes at least four votes.
Council members Tom Scott, Gwen Miller and Joseph Caetano voted to approve the rezoning, while Mary Mulhern strongly opposed having such a project in a historic district.
Linda Saul-Sena made the initial motion to approve, then became flustered after hearing Mulhern's opinions, withdrew her motion, and voted no.
Council member John Dingfelder recused himself, saying he had a conflict of interest because his law firm, Scarritt Law Group, is in Hyde Park.
The council must vote again on Thursday, when Miranda is present. The public hearing portion of the rezoning has closed, so the council will not be taking more public comments.
On Friday, Miranda said he had not yet formed an opinion.
"Not until after I've read all the evidence and heard all of the arguments," he said. "Every decision is difficult, but especially ones where you affect a lot of people's lives."
At Thursday night's hearing, developer David Wasserman brought in a dream team of attorneys, architects and others who backed his proposal.
Objecting residents - many of whom were lawyers and architects themselves - showed up in droves to fight the proposed nine-story development.
More than 70 people from each side argued their points.
Those who oppose the project said it is too grandiose and does not fit in with the rest of historic Hyde Park. They also worry about the affect of 163 new residences on traffic and schools.
Those who support the development said Hyde Park Village is dying and needs a makeover. Some homeowners felt the project would help property values.
Shop owners pleaded to bring the center back to life.
"There are more people in this room than there are in Hyde Park," said Kit Stewart, who owns Kit's Well Heeled & Well Dressed.