News of a developer planning to construct a large residential and commercial complex on the southwestern edge of Safety Harbor has caused concern among residents and officials in town.
The proposal, submitted to the city by the Richman Group of Florida, calls for a 296-unit apartment complex and up to 37,900 square feet of commercial and retail space be built on the old Firmenich Citrus Center grounds on the northeast corner of McMullen Booth Road and State Road 590.
At a city commission meeting earlier this month, commissioners voiced their opinions on the proposal; their concerns included traffic and overcrowding issues as well as a fear that the development would change the face of Safety Harbor forever.
“This is not my Safety Harbor,” Commissioner Nancy Besore said of the proposal. “This is New York to me.”
The proposal is set to go before the Planning & Zoning Board for approval Wednesday night, and concerned citizens are uniting to let officials know they do not want the development to go ahead as is without significant changes being made.
“I live adjacent to the property where they are planning to put this development,” said Anna Marie Dunn, a marketing consultant who works from her Wilder Oaks home. “My back yard will look directly into this complex.”
“This will be the largest building along ... the McMullen Booth corridor,” she added. “McMullen Booth was set up to be a naturally beautiful state road. This will impact the look and feel of Safety Harbor.”
Dunn, who moved to the area in 1999, sent an email to city officials on Sunday in hopes of letting them know how she and many of her neighbors feel about the proposal.
She emphasizes that she is not against development in town, just not on the size and scale of this particular project.
“I’m definitely for development, and I’d love to see Safety Harbor grow,” she said. “But I’d like to see them take a look at an alternative plan, with single-family homes or two-story buildings instead of four-stories.”
Dunn and members of her neighborhood coalition were meeting Monday night to organize their thoughts and ideas and to sign a petition, which they will present at the P&Z board meeting.
She says they are adamant about protecting the image of Safety Harbor.
“When I tell people I live in Safety Harbor, they say how nice and quaint it is. I don’t want the first thing people think of to be, ‘Oh, that’s where that giant apartment complex is.' ”
The Planning & Zoning Board will meet Wednesday, Oct. 10th at 6:30pm at City Hall.