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Petition drive to block development in Madeira Beach stalls

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Residents in this barrier island community have gone to war with the Madeira Beach government over a proposal to build a seven-building hotel/condominium/parking complex at the entrance to the city.

“I haven’t heard anyone say they’re opposed to development,” said Sam Baker Jr. of Madeira Beach United, the group fighting the proposal. “What they’re opposed to is this grossly excessive development.”

Members of the group have filed suit to stop the development. And they’ve also started a petition drive to put the proposal before voters on the next available ballot.

But their efforts hit a snag this week when the city clerk refused to accept an affidavit signed by the five petition committee members. The testimony is required by the city charter to start a petition drive. In a letter to the five, Clerk Aimee Servedio said she rejected the affidavit because it’s unclear whether they were placed under oath before or after they signed the document.

Baker said he believes the language on the affidavit makes clear that they were sworn in before they signed it.

“The city has thrown up a roadblock,” Baker said. “We have a full-blown fight on our hands.”

Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno could not be reached for comment.

At issue is the redevelopment of two parcels of land located just off the Tom Stuart Causeway at the entrance to the only bridge into the city. One parcel is vacant. The other, known as the “Holton property,” is partly empty but also houses a boat storage facility with slips and marina-related commercial uses.

A developer, Holiday Isles Resort, wants to rezone the parcels to clear the way for hotels, condominiums, a restaurant, commercial development, a marina and a parking garage.

Altogether, opponents say, the proposed development is too much for such small pieces of property. That’s especially the case as the two parcels flank the entrance to the city because they would loom over traffic as it comes into the beach community.

It’s unclear where the fight will go from here. Baker said he’s consulting with other members of his group and their attorney before deciding what steps to take next.

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