The two homes under construction are legal, but critics say they will overwhelm the landscape.
By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001
REDINGTON BEACH -- Two houses under construction on Gulf Boulevard that have been criticized for towering over adjacent homes may trigger a review of town building codes.
The 48-foot-tall "twins," as they are called by many residents, are legal and meet all current codes.
The confluence of local and federal building codes and the popular multiple-roof architecture have produced two homes approaching the 50-foot building maximum the town imposes on condominiums and hotels.
"I object. This intimidates, crowds and shadows the houses around," resident Maureen O'Connor said at a recent Town Commission meeting.
O'Connor lives across the street from the new homes. "If this continues, you're going to have a wall (of homes)," she said while asking the commission to change the town's codes to prevent the building of similar homes.
In 1981, the town restricted all single-family homes to no more than two stories with a maximum height of 34 feet above mean high tide. That ceiling was reduced to 30 feet the following year. In 1984, the building code was revised to add the word "median" in measuring gabled roof heights. In 1998, the commission again changed the code to begin building height measurements at the federally set base flood elevation.
Pinellas County Building Official Jack Tipton says the 48-foot height of the highest roof is the result of a "mathematical formula" that averages the height of the five distinct roof elevations on each of the two homes. That median measurement is 29.3 feet, Tipton said.
The two homes at 15806 and 15808 Gulf Blvd. are owned by builder Samuel Angelides, who said he will live in one of the houses and will sell the other for $2.75-million.
Last week it appeared a majority of the commission appeared ready to consider new limits on roof heights.
Commissioner Judy Orzech said she believes the original intent of the town's codes was to limit home building heights to no more than 30 feet above base flood elevation.
Commissioners Tim Gregson and Laura Canniff first want to find out if a majority of residents want it done.
"People have bought property on Gulf Boulevard and have plans to build. Now do we say, "Sorry, sorry about your million bucks?"' asked Gregson.
Canniff said that as the town's many ground-level homes along Gulf Boulevard are raised or replaced to meet federal flood rules, "eventually we will be looking at residences looking like that all up and down the beach."
Mayor Jerry Reitz and Commissioner John Fish are opposed to any change in the building code.