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Madeira Beach consultant: Create citywide master plan

A long-term vision was a "recurring issue'' among residents and businesses, he says. A survey might be a first step.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001


MADEIRA BEACH -- The city needs a master plan -- at a potential cost of $200,000 -- to control growth while maintaining the city's character, a consultant told the commission on Tuesday.

"You need a physical and strategic development plan for the next 25 years," said Dr. James Moore, an architect and community designer who led the city's recent visioning process. "The ultimate issue is to have a general sense of where the community will go and have a regulator process in place."

But before Madeira Beach can develop such a plan, the city must decide just what that character is. Moore said the city should hire consultants to conduct a survey that might ask residents to collect photographs of what they like and don't like throughout the city. Additional consultants might be needed to guide the development of the plan itself.

The process might take two years, Moore said.

"It's quite clear to me that there is a desire for a vision for the future of your community," said Moore, who will deliver a report on the process by early June.

He told the commission Tuesday that he has identified several "recurring issues" that residents and businesses want addressed: revising and enforcing the city's building codes, controlling pollution in Boca Ciega Bay, enhancing the city's overall aesthetics, creating a special planning district for the Madeira Way area, burying utility wires and creating a citywide master plan.

"Undergrounding utilities is a really long-term project and is not something that can be done easily," Moore said, adding that "people tend to like really expensive things" and think "the cheap stuff is not so nice."

Mayor Tom DeCesare questioned the length of time required for adoption of a master plan. "While it is in process, things will happen and people will want to develop. Is there some way we could develop a quasi-plan in the meantime?" he asked.

Commissioner Charles Parker said the city should be "very careful not to infringe on the rights of individual people. We can't force people into doing things."

Moore suggested involving major developers in the process to ensure that interim developments would be compatible with the ultimate plan. He also cautioned the commission against "sanitizing" the city to the point that all areas look the same.

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