Proposed development draws concern in Madeira

Posted at 5:40 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 17:40:27-05

The calming crash of waves along a white sand beach combined with the small-town feel is why more than 4,400 people love calling Madeira Beach home.

"This is a nice home feel here. Nice atmosphere," said Ron Brazeau, president of the Snug Harbor Condo Association.

But Brazeau and many of his neighbors worry that quiet beach community feel could soon disappear. The city's currently considering a huge development proposal called Holiday Isles to be located right off the causeway as you come into town.

"We don't want to live in a city. We don't want to live in an asphalt jungle, and that's what we think will happen if we don't stand up and voice our opinions strongly," said John Lipa, vice president of the Madeira Cove Condo Association.

Holiday Isles would take over a mostly vacant 4.5 acre lot right on the water. Plans call for three buildings that would be a mix of condo and hotel space totaling more than 600 units, plus a restaurant, and a hundred new boat slips. The cost to build it all could top $80 million.

"We want this to be the entryway to paradise, something that Madeira Beach can be proud of, Pinellas County can be proud of, and the 100 million plus visitors coming into Florida can come see and say, 'Wow. This is special,'" said Ed Hooper, consultant to the Holiday Isles developer.

A lot of locals say they're excited at the thought of seeing an eyesore turned into something new, but the scale of the proposed development worries many.

"We love our life here. We're very happy with it. But this looks like an extreme overkill," said Larry Roelofs, president of the Madeira Cove Condo Association. 

They think traffic on the main roads will become unbearable, adding to the reasons many here are banding together to fight the current plan.

"We're not happy with this project and want it scaled back," Roelofs said.

The developers insist they've already reduced the scope of the project and are working with FDOT to minimize the impact on traffic.

"We think at the end of the day, it's going to be the most incredible addition to Madeira Beach, maybe to the Gulf beaches in general, that there has been in a long time," Hooper said.

The city's planning commission will be taking up the proposed development at its meeting Monday night at 7 p.m. After that, the city commission will likely take a look at the plans at its March meeting.