52-unit town home development could be built next to Oldsmar Public Library

The Oldsmar City Council last week authorized the City Manager to negotiate a development agreement for a 52-unit town home community to be built on 3.8 acres of land adjacent to the Oldsmar Public Library.

The Oldsmar City Council last week authorized City Manager Bruce Haddock to negotiate a development agreement for a 52-unit town home community to be built adjacent to the Oldsmar Public Library.

The parameters of the agreement call for the sale of 3.79 acres of the City-owned, 7-acre parcel to the Eastern Meridian Group for $877,182, with several requirements of the developer, including buying into the City’s stormwater system, using architecture consistent with code requirements and constructing a street connecting St. Petersburg Drive with Arlington Avenue.

An overhead look at the land where a proposed 52-unit town home development could be built next to the Oldsmar Public Library.

The motion, which passed by a vote of 4-1 on July 18, came shortly after the Council, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, unanimously approved drafting an ordinance that would change the zoning for property from Residential Single-Family (R2) to Town Center Commercial Neighborhood (TCCN). TCCN zoning allows for retail, office and mixed-use development, including town homes.

While all five council members had no issues with the rezoning request, especially considering there had been talks of building a new community center on the land, there was some disagreement over the connecting street.

“I think the project’s fine, but I don’t understand School Street being opened,” Jerry Beverland said, adding, “I can’t support that.”

Based on the preliminary conceptual site plan, School Street would bisect the development, connecting busy St. Petersburg Drive with Arlington Avenue East, a quiet residential street located directly behind the library.

Several Arlington Avenue residents spoke out against the project earlier in the meeting.

Dale Renbjor, a resident of Arlington Avenue in Oldsmar.

“I would like the Council to say, ‘let’s not do this,’” Arlington Avenue resident and planning board member Dale Renbjor said. “This is fifty-two town homes. That’s 200 people, 104 cars. It impacts traffic, I feel, in a negative manner.”

“To me, it changes the character and nature of the area back there next to the library.”

Renbjor also said he believed the City was selling the property for less than what it’s worth, noting, “we’re losing $200,000 on this sale.”

Fellow Arlington Ave resident Dave Tilki also expressed opposition to the development, specifically noting the Council recently eliminated a secondary access point for the new Oldsmar Cares building.

“Council member (Gabby) McGee, at a hearing two weeks ago or so about Oldsmar Cares, I’m quoting you, said, ‘This is zoned for office, it doesn’t necessarily need any access to a residential street,’” Tilki said.

Oldsmar City Council member Gabby McGee.

“I guess I would make the same comment here. If this is gonna be zoned Town Center Commercial Neighborhood, why do they need any access to a residential street?”

Later, McGee explained why this situation was different.

“Obviously, that is a business and charitable organization, and it doesn’t really need to have access into a residential area” she said.

“I can see the point about not necessarily needing the street to go through,” she added.

“My concern would be though, if there was only one way in or out, and you have 52 town homes, if there were an emergency or a fire, those people only have one way in or out.”

Oldsmar Fire Chief Dean O”Nale confirmed multiple access points are preferred by emergency responders.

“When we can, we like to have multiple ways in and out,” he said.

A look at the preliminary conceptual site plan for the town home development next to the Oldsmar Public Library. (Credit: City of Oldsmar)

Council member Eric Seidel expressed his approval of the proposal, saying “I think it’s good for the City,” but he opposed the street.

“I won’t support that,” he said.

Seidel and McGee also said they believed the development would add much needed residential density to the downtown district, which would help support the proposed downtown development project, while Beverland said he wanted some guarantees regarding the property.

Oldsmar City Council member Jerry Beverland.

“If this developer buys the land to develop, I want to make sure he develops it and nobody else,” he said. “Can we do that?”

Haddock responded that it was possible, but he “wouldn’t recommend that.”

Beverland went on to make an additional request.

“I want it iron-clad…that the architectural design of the buildings, I want to see it first,” he said.

“I’m gonna be tough on this. If I don’t like the architectural designs, I’ll vote against the whole thing.”

Haddock stressed the “project is a long way from being a done deal,” with multiple trips before the planning board and the council still to come, but he added, “I think the rezoning should be done, irregardless.”

Ultimately, the Council approved the item, 4-1, with Beverland casting the lone dissenting vote.

Stay with Oldsmar Connect.com for continuing coverage of this story.

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