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Political Party with Adam Smith: Preserving St. Pete’s vibe could take a citywide vote

Adam Smith

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Back in 2011, a strong majority of St. Petersburg voters passed a city charter amendment requiring a waterfront master plan to ensure the city’s sacred waterfront would be properly protected. Ten years later, development in the city is booming so much that backers of that waterfront plan are calling for a similar plan to ensure St Pete doesn’t lose its character amid a sea of million-dollar condos.

“I view the Community Character Master Plan as kind of moving forward from what we did 10 years ago. Ten years ago, we weren’t growing like we are today,“ Peter Belmont, a longtime leader of Preserve the Burg, said on the latest episode of Political Party with Adam Smith.

“That master plan would be a great way to help keep St. Pete special.”

Belmont spoke about concerns that St. Petersburg is in danger of losing its unique character amid all the development. Just as roads and sewers are key to a city’s infrastructure, so is a coherent vision and plan for growth.

“Cities are going to naturally grow, change over time, but it’s important to have a plan and a vision and a guide for how you’re going to grow, and I think in terms of ensuring that St. Pete stays special, keeps what is important, we’re lacking that infrastructure,” said Belmont, who also lamented that the current administration routinely ignores or downplays existing development codes that require projects be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

“Those expectations that you can do whatever you want with your property, or the downtown zoning code allows you to build a high rise anywhere, is not an accurate expectation, and the city needs to be clear about that,” he said.

“It’s sad. It takes leadership to say we are going to begin to make sure that we develop in a sensitive fashion in a way that is sustainable and in a way that keeps our city special and attractive essentially for our families and for our future.”

Preserve the Burg has urged the city’s Charter Review Commission to put on the ballot a Community Character Master Plan charter amendment. That plan would focus on ensuring historic preservation, the arts, local businesses and diversity are not lost amid all the demolition and new construction.

Click the arrow above for the full interview.

Contact Adam Smith at asmith@mercuryllc.com.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Adam Brown

    May 28, 2021at3:40 pm

    Sure seems that this type of amendment is very, very subjective compared to the last one. We need to be careful that we don’t halt progress, positive growth and refurbishment even if it is with good intentions.

  2. Avatar

    Maria Scruggs

    May 31, 2021at7:46 am

    I support Belmont’s rationale. Concepts like preserving a city’s character or vault progress are merely obscure concept s when there has not been a planning process that defines what the character of St. Petersburg is or defines what progress looks like. Personally the city feels like it’s has been taken over by huge building a that will cave in one day because the city’s infrastructure won’t support it! It’s nothing worse than something trying to look like something it isn’t!

  3. Avatar

    JANICA JOHNSON

    May 31, 2021at8:41 am

    I agree with 2 previous comments, even if differently stated. Change is the only thing one can count on, however “ not so fast”. We have many treasures, especially the ENTIRE WATER FRONT, Down town area. Very important to never let that be taken over by big money condos. That area should always be enjoyed by ALL

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