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    City votes to rezone Holiday campsite

    If ultimately approved, a developer would be allowed to build an upscale community at Holiday Campground.

    By MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001


    SEMINOLE -- Despite opposition from dozens of tenants of the Holiday Campground, the City Council late Tuesday tentatively approved a zoning change to allow construction of a $100-million upscale residential community there.

    Only council members Patricia Hartstein and Paul Trexler opposed the move. A final vote will be scheduled later.

    "We have no authority to preserve your homes," Mayor Dottie Reeder told the audience of about 300 people packed into Seminole Community Library, most of them residents of the park for recreational vehicles.

    Bill Baynard Sr., owner of the 600-lot Holiday Campground on Park Boulevard, wants to sell his property to a developer who would build a mixture of condominiums, townhomes and upscale homes -- 408 in all.

    If developed, the site on the shores of Long Bayou would be the newest and largest upscale community in Seminole and in mid Pinellas County.

    The property's current land use and zoning allows for a hotel, motel, inn, resort or recreational vehicle park. The developers requested a change in the zoning designation so a residential development could be built on the site.

    "The zoning change is needed to develop their property," said Michael Crawford, a principal planner with the Pinellas Planning Council.

    Fifteen people spoke against the proposed development. They voiced concerns over the current water shortage, the environment and traffic. They said many of the tenants, especially those who lived there year-round, would suffer emotional hardships.

    Judy Glass, a Holiday Park resident for five years, said it wasn't fair that many of the campground's tenants would lose money if the ordinance passed. She said panic had set in at the park.

    "And now they are having to sell their homes at an incredible loss," Glass said.

    Despite the vote, some council members had a lot of questions about the proposed development.

    "Something about this package doesn't feel right," said Hartstein.

    "I don't like the idea of 65-foot condominiums coming into the city," Trexler said.

    The city's Land Development Review Board voted unanimously to approve land use and zoning changes for the property March 19. That meeting also drew a large crowd.

    The developer for the proposed development is John Reed of the La Perla Development Group. He wants to build a mixture of 76 single-family homes, 180 condominiums and 152 townhomes on the property where Holiday Campground now sits. The $100-million project most likely would be called La Perla, which means "the pearl" in Spanish.

    The overall theme of the development would be similar to the Bayou Club Estates, a luxury community off Belcher Road in an unincorporated area of Pinellas County.

    The club homes would overlook at 6-acre lake and range in size from 2,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet. The waterfront estate homes would start at 3,000 square feet.

    The campground is across Park Boulevard from the entrance to Lake Seminole Park. Although the property contains 101 acres, only 45 are useable because the land borders Long Bayou and a fragile wetlands system.

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