More than 30 people stood up and spoke during the Safety Harbor City Commission meeting Monday night regarding the Firmenich property proposal, and that's not including officials from the city and the developer.
With so much to report regarding the approval of the Richman Group's plan, it was difficult to include in Patch's initial story many of the thoughts and opinions that were expressed during a meeting that ran nearly four hours long.
So with the proposal for a 246-unit apartment complex with 25,000-square-feet of office space now headed to the county level, we wanted to highlight some of the comments that were made during the meeting.
Here is a sample of comments made by residents and officials on both sides of the issue.
Kevin Moyer, resident: "I don't like the project, I don't like the density, and I don't like where it's gone. It's not that I'm against development — this property will be developed - but the scope and scale is completely out of character."
Bernard James, resident: "After spending 25 years in Europe, I got used to to quaint, nice, quiet small communities. ... The reason why I picked Safety Harbor was because it reminded me of some of the quaint, nice, friendly towns in Austria. What we are about to do now is change that character. And that's the one reason I oppose it."
Bruce Hadburg, resident: "I'm impressed that the Commission has listened to what the residents have said. You've implored the Richman Group to work with you and they have made some changes ... I think the strategy is to continue to protest so they'll keep moving the density down to where it becomes economically infeasible. ... I think Safety Harbor needs to move forward."
Robert Pergolizzi, Richman Group spokesperson: "The changes we have made have been quite substantial since the beginning of this process. We've come back and done exactly what you asked - we've reduced the units, we've reduced the height...We're here to do our job and be part of this community."
Christina Jackson, resident: "We've reviewed the proposal ... and I was very disappointed to see the changes, or a lack thereof. We do want something here, but not on this scale."
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Russell Norman, resident: "I would like to ask the Commission to take the proposal and scrap it all together. The residents are being sold a bill of goods by this developer that just doesn't pass the smell test ... We aren't saying no development, we're just saying get it right."
Alan Zimmet, city attorney: "Your decision tonight is constrained by certain state statutes and rules of laws that apply to you ... Florida is a very strong property rights state. ... Firmenich, as the property owner ... has certain rights that state statutes and the rules of the courts have required you to recognize."
John Lundbreck, resident: "Safety Harbor is quaint but there could be a margin between quaint and quiet and a margin between quiet and dead. ... Safety Harbor needs, I think, to embrace some development. Myself, my friends and neighbors say build this development."
Alisa Hostetler, resident: "I'm going to make this short and sweet. We as residents of Safety Harbor were smart enough to vote you into office, and we're also smart enough to realize what's in our best interests, and we hope you are, too. "
Nina Pilon, resident: "I've lived on Harbor Hills Drive for six years ... and I'm here to say I would like to see this development move forward. ... I really and truly believe that this is in the best interest of Safety Harbor.
What do you think, Harborites? Add your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.