Tampa Bay columnists
Mary Jo Melone
World & Nation
AP The Wire
Comics & Games
Home & Garden
Advertise with the Times
Amid protests, plan pulled for townhouses in Ozona
By ROBERT FARLEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 22, 2000
OZONA -- Bowing to neighborhood pressure, the potential buyers of a scenic property on the Gulf of Mexico have withdrawn a request to build eight townhouses.
The plan met with opposition from area residents convinced the townhouses would not fit into the Old Florida ambience of the single-family homes that make up most of this community.
But while residents might have won a victory in stopping the townhouses, the prospective owners vow it will not block development of the 1.6-acre property on both sides of Bayshore Drive, just south of Bay Street.
Current zoning allows for eight single-family homes, and that may be exactly what's coming, said Dave Massigman, who, along with partner David Lane, has agreed to buy the property.
"We just decided we're not going to fight with the neighbors," said Massigman, owner of nearby Pat's Landing.
"We basically backed off it (the townhouse plan) to come up with a new plan," Massigman said. "It's going to be developed one way or another."
Whether townhouses or single-family homes, "It's the same number of units either way," said County Administrator Fred Marquis. "For some reason, the community up there went bonkers. They didn't want townhouses."
Two petitions circulated in the community, one in favor of the townhouse proposal that garnered 70 signatures, and one against it, which carried 124 names.
County staffers recommended denial of the townhouse plan, saying it might "change the character of the area and set precedent for further changes."
Although known by many area residents as Speckled Trout Marina, the property has not been used as a marina for many years.
Several years ago, property owner Stedman Carr proposed a bait-and-sandwich shop on the property, Marquis said. But then Carr's son began circulating plans around the community for a full-scale restaurant. The restaurant plan differed drastically from the approved plans, Marquis said. The county halted construction, leaving a number of pilings in the gulf for the proposed restaurant.
There have been dozens of plans since then, Marquis said, "but for the first time, it looks like something will finally happen."
The Ozona Village Improvement Society appealed to the county to buy and preserve the property.
"Our community has a considerable identity and history with this waterfront site," OVIS President Bobbie B. Painter wrote in a letter to the commission. "Most of our history of the fishing- and waterfront-related activities dating from the turn of the century have been at this site. This is the location that visitors to Ozona wish to visit because of the spectacular views to the west."
If the county purchased the property, Painter said OVIS would maintain it.
"That's pretty much the standard reply when people don't want something," Marquis said.
But the land is not environmentally sensitive, he said, or big enough to develop recreationally.
"We have zero interest in buying it," Marquis said.
In a letter to the county, Lane noted the property was offered for sale to OVIS, but it declined.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.