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Firmenich Proposal Protest Set For Friday

A pair of Safety Harbor residents who live near the citrus center plan to stand outside the property to draw attention to the issue.

The sign sits in front of a house along the west side of 14th Street South, just before the curve where the road turns into State Road 590: “Imagine Another 300+ CARS @ the NEXT LIGHT. TELL S.H. NO.”

A couple hundred yards away from the curve sits the Firmenich Citrus Center, abandoned except for some office staffers.

If residential property developer the Richman Group of Florida gets its way, a 276-unit apartment complex with 20,000 square feet of office space will occupy the 34-acre parcel sometime in the near future. 

But if the residents of that home, Sheryl Hollen and Barbara Hugg, have their way, that day will never come.

“I’ve lived in this home since 1994,” said Hollen, a 25-year resident of Safety Harbor. “I’d love to see something prettier go in there, but not an apartment complex.”

Regardless of whether the Richaman Group’s latest proposal goes through as is, Hollen and Hugg are fearful of the traffic problem the entrance to the property will create.

“I’m a daily driver, and the added traffic in the morning and afternoon is my number one concern,” Hollen said.

Already the couple say there are daily mishaps and near misses on the road, as cars come speeding around or up to the curve well above the posted speed limit of 35 mph. 

In fact, Hugg said they have witnessed no fewer than seven accidents in the area since they’ve lived there.

“The people fly through here,” she said. “They honk at me when I try to turn into my driveway, pass me on the shoulder of the road. I put my blinker on well before my driveway just so I don’t get hit.”

“The situation is bad now. It’s only going to get worse if that proposal goes through.” 

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Following the latest Planning & Zoning Board meeting, where the board approved the newest Richman plan by a vote of 6-1, Hollen came up with an idea to help get the word out about what the proposal would do to the traffic in the area.

And just like that, a sign was born.

“The sign was a way to get the word out to people who drive this road every day,” she said. “We want everyone to know that if this comes in, it’s going to greatly impact your drive every day.”

“This is going to affect a lot more people than those that just live on this road.” 

While the sign was a way to get the word out to a larger group of people, the pair have planned an even bigger demonstration this Friday to help spread the word.

The couple say they will stand near the entrance to Firmenich, next to a sign announcing the next City Commission meeting on Feb. 4, and wave to motorists in hopes of drawing attention to the issue.

“The protest is just a start. It’s way to let people know the entrance is going here,” Hollen said. 

“We’re passionate about this,” Hugg added. “We know a lot of other people are, too, but they just don’t know how to go about expressing it.”

They say they are planning something bigger for the commission meeting, but won’t say what it is yet. They just hope to draw more attention to their cause. 

“I don’t know how many people you need to get the word across,” Hollen said. “But I do know that the city knows how big this is, so it's going to take more than a handful."

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Barbara W. Hugg January 22, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Newsflash. Just had a visit from Pinellas County Code enforcement officer. He was absolutely the nicest guy ever. The sign must come down due to a citizen complaint. The good news is we don't have to move the sign until we get the official letter with the official date. Even better news is we can go downtown Clearwater and find out who filed the complaint. The officer was not allowed to tell me immediately who the complaint came from. It's a safety precaution so we don't run out and punch somebody for filing against our sign. That's not something Sheryl or I would do, but I guess there are those who would. Standby for the big reveal, can't wait to find out.
Barbara W. Hugg January 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM
I tried to find out who filed the complaint but here is what I got back: Barbara W Hugg I wrote in hope I could get an answer about the complaint but I have to go : Since there is a named complainant regarding this complaint (CL13-00127) you will have to come into our office at 440 Court Street; Clearwater, FL 33756 (2nd floor) to receive this information. Thank you and have a nice day. I will be going to find out and will let you all know who it was. This is rather exciting...
Barbara W. Hugg January 23, 2013 at 02:56 PM
And the winner is Joseph Young 750 Main Street. 727-724 1555 X 705. Searching city website now to see who he is, so far no luck....
Robert Saltzman January 23, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Could it be a fake "Mighty Joe Young" Beautiful dreamer dah dah dah dah....
Carolyn Czop Griffin January 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Joseph A Young is the Code Enforcer of Safety Harbor. See his name in the top right hand corner of the following link: http://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com/index.aspx?NID=121

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