Tampa leaders question delays in rezoning, liquor license requests
TAMPA - City council members on Thursday plan to discuss how many times someone seeking a zoning change or alcoholic beverage license can re-schedule their appearance before the board. Here’s the problem, as council Chairman Charlie Miranda sees it: When the council’s consideration of a proposal is delayed repeatedly, people with something to say about the request might be less inclined to show up. In essence, repeated delays can wear down opponents or proponents until they stand down. Last Thursday at their regular meeting, council members were asked to continue a handful of applications that in some cases had lingered for as long as six months. One was for a beer, wine and liquor license for Red Star Rock Bar, a proposed business at 5210 N. Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights. The frequency of such requests to delay council action troubles Miranda.“What happens is that we water down the opposition when they don’t come up, if there is any. I’m not saying there is in this (Red Star Rock Bar) case,” Miranda said. “We have to set some standards and rules. If you did have opposition, you wear them out. It’s not fair to continue these things.” Council members agreed to delay their final vote on Red Star Rock Bar until June 27 but stipulated the bar’s owner, Paul Medrano, re-notify the public of the hearing date. It was the eighth delay since the council initially approved the application in October on a 6-1 vote. The council must vote twice on such matters before its ruling is final. Medrano has tried for months to secure a lease for a parking lot. Last month Florida’s Department of Transportation agreed to a five-year lease on vacant land next to the bar. “They are having to build and construct a parking lot,” said Joel Sousa, a city planner. “They are going through the planning process.” Miranda also raised questions about parking leases, which sometimes are how business owners meet city parking requirements when they don’t have sufficient on-site parking. “To me they don’t mean anything. They can be broken,” he said. “There’s got to be a change in the laws.” Among other cases postponed by the council was an alcohol beverage license request for FieldHouse Inc., at 308 S. Howard Ave. The application initially was continued in September. Council heard lengthy testimony last Thursday prior to putting off a final vote until June 27. An alcohol beverage license request for Dubliner Inc., at 2307 W. Azeele St. also was postponed until June 27 with stipulation that the public be re-notified of the date. The first re-scheduled hearing was in November.