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Independent report raises ‘ no major red flags’ on Madeira Beach development

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by
Travis Palladeno
Travis Palladeno

An independent study of a proposed development on Madeira Beach raised “concerns,” but no major red flags, said the man who paid for it.

Robert Klingel Sr., the semiretired CEO of TSE Industries, had the study done because he wanted to find the truth of the many conflicting arguments for and against the Madeira Beach Town Center Project.

That project and another one located basically across the street have raised hackles in this beach community for the past several months. Opponents have claimed the two projects will bring in excess traffic and density to an already overburdened area and will destroy the aesthetics of one of the only gateway to the city from the mainland. Lawsuits, ethics complaints and petitions have been launched to try stopping the projects from being built. The brouhaha has made it hard for some to decide who’s right.

Klingel paid Charles Gauthier, a certified planner from Tallahassee, to look at the zoning and the development agreement for the Madeira Beach Town Center project. The project, which will be located at the foot of the only bridge into the city from the mainland is scheduled to be built on 6.7 acres. It would have a 430-unit hotel in two 11-story buildings; 55,000 feet of commercial/retail/restaurant space; 90 condominium units in two eight-story buildings; and a 43-slip marina.

“It is clear that redevelopment of the area is meritorious,” Gauthier wrote in the report. “The city of Madeira Beach is to be commended for its long-term effort toward that goal.”

However, Gauthier wrote, “while the overall direction toward redevelopment is appropriate, I have identified significant concerns with this particular proposal.”

Among those concerns: The proposed development is located in the coastal high hazard area and flood zone. The development agreement will last for only 30 years.

The evaluation does not include references to either traffic or density. Klingel said Gauthier is not qualified to make those assessments, and he will likely find another expert to look at those issues.

As for Gauthier’s findings, Klingel stated that they did raise “concerns,” especially the worry about flooding.

“I was looking for a huge red flag,” Klingel said. “I did not see one.”

But he conceded that others might. It depends on your viewpoint, he said. And, he said, no one trusts developers or government.

Representatives of Madeira Beach United, which was formed in part to fight the proposed developments, could not be reached for comment.

Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno said the concerns Gauthier raised had been aired before. The city is aware of them, he said, and most will be handled during the permitting process.

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