The sign sits in front of a house along the west side of 14th Street South, just before the curve where the road turns into State Road 590: “Imagine Another 300+ CARS @ the NEXT LIGHT. TELL S.H. NO.”
A couple hundred yards away from the curve sits the Firmenich Citrus Center, abandoned except for some office staffers.
If residential property developer the Richman Group of Florida gets its way, a 276-unit apartment complex with 20,000 square feet of office space will occupy the 34-acre parcel sometime in the near future.
But if the residents of that home, Sheryl Hollen and Barbara Hugg, have their way, that day will never come.
“I’ve lived in this home since 1994,” said Hollen, a 25-year resident of Safety Harbor. “I’d love to see something prettier go in there, but not an apartment complex.”
Regardless of whether the Richaman Group’s latest proposal goes through as is, Hollen and Hugg are fearful of the traffic problem the entrance to the property will create.
“I’m a daily driver, and the added traffic in the morning and afternoon is my number one concern,” Hollen said.
Already the couple say there are daily mishaps and near misses on the road, as cars come speeding around or up to the curve well above the posted speed limit of 35 mph.
In fact, Hugg said they have witnessed no fewer than seven accidents in the area since they’ve lived there.
“The people fly through here,” she said. “They honk at me when I try to turn into my driveway, pass me on the shoulder of the road. I put my blinker on well before my driveway just so I don’t get hit.”
“The situation is bad now. It’s only going to get worse if that proposal goes through.”
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Following the latest Planning & Zoning Board meeting, where the board approved the newest Richman plan by a vote of 6-1, Hollen came up with an idea to help get the word out about what the proposal would do to the traffic in the area.
And just like that, a sign was born.
“The sign was a way to get the word out to people who drive this road every day,” she said. “We want everyone to know that if this comes in, it’s going to greatly impact your drive every day.”
“This is going to affect a lot more people than those that just live on this road.”
While the sign was a way to get the word out to a larger group of people, the pair have planned an even bigger demonstration this Friday to help spread the word.
The couple say they will stand near the entrance to Firmenich, next to a sign announcing the next City Commission meeting on Feb. 4, and wave to motorists in hopes of drawing attention to the issue.
“The protest is just a start. It’s way to let people know the entrance is going here,” Hollen said.
“We’re passionate about this,” Hugg added. “We know a lot of other people are, too, but they just don’t know how to go about expressing it.”
They say they are planning something bigger for the commission meeting, but won’t say what it is yet. They just hope to draw more attention to their cause.
“I don’t know how many people you need to get the word across,” Hollen said. “But I do know that the city knows how big this is, so it's going to take more than a handful."