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    Editor's Bait House on hook for extra building permit fee

    A Belleair Beach official will have to pay triple the normal permit fee to Clearwater.

    By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


    CLEARWATER -- C.J. "Chuck" Pollick, a newspaper editor who runs the Bait House at the city's marina, had dozens of meetings with city administrators to allow him to add a restaurant to his bait business -- but he forgot to obtain a building permit before he built his business' kitchen this fall.

    Now city administrators say that Pollick's restaurant renovation may not have been built to code. They're also making him pay triple the normal permit fee -- about $168 -- as a penalty while Pollick is working to submit to the city all the needed paperwork and make corrections to his project.

    Pollick, the opinionated editor of the Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views and a Belleair Beach City Council member, declined to say whether he should have known to get the city permit. But Pollick did say he has been busy and may not have paid close enough attention to the Bait House's renovation.

    "I expect no special treatment, none," Pollick said Monday. "Things fell through the cracks, but as soon as I became aware of it, we started taking care of it."

    Robert Wilson of Wilson and Kehoe Corp. in Largo -- whom Pollick said is his contractor -- said he knew a permit was required for the project. Wilson said he is helping Pollick now "after the fact" as a friend and hung up on a reporter.

    Whether Pollick should have known better was considered as the city decided to triple permit fees as a penalty, said Jeff Kronschnabl, who heads the city's development services department.

    City records show Pollick obtained Clearwater building permits when he renovated his Bait House business in 1991 and 1993.

    The city's building division realized that the most recent renovation was done without the needed permit in late October, after Pollick called interim City Manager Bill Horne and the city's gas company to ask how his restaurant business could use city gas.

    An informal inspection of the $3,800 renovation followed, revealing eight concerns with the construction, Kronschnabl said. Of most concern was the installation of cooking equipment in a way that might trap hot grease and pose a fire risk. Once all of Pollick's paperwork is in order, Kronschnabl said, the city will officially inspect the Bait House project.

    There also have been concerns with federal flood regulations, so the city had to double-check that the value of the renovations didn't exceed 50 percent of the Bait House's property value. Based on new appraisal information provided recently, the project is okay on that front, said Rob Hays, the city's development services coordinator.

    According to Kronschnabl, Horne and Pollick, preliminary plans for the project had been submitted to former City Manager Mike Roberto, Planning Administrator John Asmar and other city officials. But by October, the plans were nowhere to be found in City Hall.

    "And somewhere in the transition through all these people, no permits were acquired," Kronschnabl said.

    Pollick said he has gone to the expense of having new plans drawn and will meet all of the city's requirements. Pollick says that his restaurant will welcome people coming off charter fishing boats to have their catch cooked on the spot.

    The restaurant addition to the Bait House has been a long time in the making, because Pollick had to have provisions in his city lease for the property changed to accommodate the project. That was accomplished with a new three-year lease that Roberto approved in 1999 and a lease change this year.

    The new lease was approved despite an assistant city attorney's concern that the new business enterprise could cause the state to demand that the city lease the submerged lands under the marina's docks for a fee, city records state.

    Then this year, the city approved a $101,310 restroom project to be constructed next door to the Bait House, which will provide two required restrooms for the project plus two restrooms with showers for marina patrons. Those restrooms will join existing facilities at the marina that weren't accessible to the handicapped.

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