Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
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Pinellas News

Tarpon considering buying land

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— In an effort to help ease local flooding issues and improve stormwater systems, the city is exploring acquiring seven properties near North Safford Avenue.

The undeveloped properties are on the easternmost end of Cedar Street — four to the north and three to the south.

Total acquisition costs for the city would be $25,000. Five properties are owned by Debora Mosley and would be sold for a total of $18,000. The two others, owned by Connie Efstathion, would be sold for $7,000.

Gaining flood-control easements is one of a number of benefits the city would get if it buys the land, staff has said.

Citing data from Pinellas County contour maps, the seven properties lie within the two lowest elevations along Cedar Street. Runoff from these wetland areas contribute to localized flooding during heavy rain events.

According to city documents, the parcels could be integrating into the Spruce Street stormwater system. Treating runoff from the area “could provide the city a net benefit in nutrient loading reduction to the Anclote River,” the document states.

Nutrient loading from fertilizers and other sources in stormwater runoff can contribute to algal blooms in nearby waterways.

Another benefit of the acquisition could be the properties’ use for floodplain mitigation purposes, said City Manager Mark LeCouris.

Floodplain or wetland mitigation is necessary in instances when a federally mandated Environmental Impact Statement shows that a proposed development will negatively impact an existing wetland area. To move forward with a project, the developer is required to mitigate those wetland losses by creating or restoring a designated acreage of nearby wetlands.

The city commission voted 4-0 motion approved for city staff and the city attorney to move forward with negotiations with Investment Florida Realty to draw up a contract and bring back a purchase agreement for further review.

Commissioner Townsend Tarapani, a licensed real estate agent with connections to Investment Florida Realty, said he has no connection with the transaction, but requested did not vote on the motion to start the neogotiations “in an effort to stay transparent” with the realty agency and the city.

ehorchy@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1071

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