Madeira Beach residents will soon be facing another storm, and not your garden-variety hurricane.
This particular nasty storm comes from Madeira Beach United, the ad-hoc neighborhood group opposing the Madeira Beach Town Center and Holiday Isles projects, the mixed-use development projects proposed for the dilapidated and underdeveloped patches of land at the city’s entrance.
Despite the group’s considerable efforts, Madeira Beach United has based its case on five falsehoods — all with the intent to strike fear in residents of the Town Center area.
Here are the mailer’s five myths — outright lies, in fact — and the truth behind them:
Lie No. 1: Town Center will use “every inch of space.”
In reality, the Holiday Isles project uses only 49 percent of the density allowed for its site under the City’s development codes, and the Madeira Beach Town Center uses only 75 percent of the allowable density.
Lie No. 2: the plan is to make Madeira Way a one-way street going north.
That is simply untrue; in all instances of the project, Madeira Way stays a two-way street.
Lie No. 3: “There could NOT be a worse place citywide to place high-rise hotels and condos.”
In fact, the City’s Town Center Special Area Plan — nine years in the making — found just the opposite. In fact, this is the ONLY place in the City where the proposed developments would be allowed. The northern entry to the City is in desperate need of revitalization and renewal, something municipal, county and state leaders, including Madeira Beach; the Pinellas Planning Council; Pinellas County and the State of Florida, agreed on when developing a City’s Comprehensive Plan.
Lie No. 4: Town Center will be a “massive” development, like those found in Clearwater Beach or Miami.
The City’s Town Center Special Area Plan was adopted — after numerous public meetings and public hearings — with the specific intent of attracting redevelopment of a decaying and underutilized small portion of the community. The development standards adopted for the Special Area Plan apply only to the Town Center area and are not available anywhere else in the City.
Also, comparing these developments to Clearwater and Miami — an unfair comparison, indeed — ignores the reality of the situation. Those locations permit, and, in fact, encourage, hotel and condominium buildings twice and three times the height of those proposed in these projects. Here, all proposed buildings are similar in scale to other buildings already existing within the Town Center area. Also, there is only one other parcel in the Town Center area that qualifies to use these development standards, and the owners of that parcel have already advised the City that they intend to redevelop the Winn-Dixie grocery store and add parking.
Lie No. 5 (this one is a whopper): Madeira Beach United claims three existing condominiums on 150th Avenue will be forced to deal with traffic.
Missing in both this mailer and the Madeira Beach United website is a simple fact: Those working on the Holiday Isles and Madeira Beach Town Center projects have been actively cooperating with the Madeira Cove, Boca Vista and Snug Harbor condo associations, as well as the city and other elected officials to discuss traffic concerns. All parties involved have one stated goal — alleviating as much as possible the effect the new projects will have on traffic in the area.
Also unmentioned is that developers have discussed with the Florida Department of Transportation permitting a traffic light to be installed at a location along 150th Avenue closer to the bridge, even though such a signal would not be warranted under existing FDOT regulations, even after both projects are complete.
Both developments have proposed extensive improvements to 150th Avenue to ease congestion, such as extending turning lanes and closing curb cuts, all of which have received FDOT preliminary approval. According to FDOT regulations, traffic issues that might be created by the developments can be addressed with improvements less drastic than a new traffic signal. Nevertheless, the developers — in response to resident concerns — have agreed to continue to push for a new traffic light, even though not warranted.