Ballast Point neighbors question Yacht Club re-zoning requests

Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 18:28:02-04

Neighbors in the Ballast Point community are worried about keeping their neighborhood peaceful, and we're not talking about people playing Pokemon Go at the park.

The Tampa Yacht and Country Club has asked to re-zone their land and the proposal isn't sitting well with the neighborhood.
"I see more and more signs go up every day," Jane Kowalski said.

The Ballast Point neighborhood has been her home for a decade. She and other neighbors are concerned about the Tampa Yacht and Country Club's re-zoning and alcohol requests with the City of Tampa.

"They just want to know what's going on. Do they just want to get alcohol? That's one thing, right. Do they want to start expanding and putting up parking garages and facilities and stuff like that? [...] I don't think a lot of people want to see that happen," Kowalski said.

According to Planning and Development with the City of Tampa, right now, the club is zoned "residential." They've been grandfathered into their operation. But if they want to expand to sell alcohol, that requires re-zoning. That's why the club said it's looking to change their status.

"An additional bar that we would look to add, so that members can enjoy the view while they have a drink and so anything that you want to add like that has to be approved through the zoning and regulatory process," Stephen Straske, commodore of the club, said.

But some neighbors said with the new zoning, the Yacht Club could be allowed to tear up their oak trees, put up a parking garage and put up apartment homes. That started the Save Ballast Point campaign. The Yacht Club started their own website, Yes Ballast Point, and said those aren't the plans.

"We have no intention to build apartments, we have no intentions to put up a parking garage," Straske said. "The beautiful oaks in this area are a criticial component of the beauty of the neighborhood, and we want to preserve those as well."

The club said they need more time to continue talking with neighbors. Kowalski said she doesn't believe the club's word just yet.

"I will not believe that until it's absolutely in writing and you know whatever the legal form would be that it would not happen. No, I don't believe that," Kowalski said.

The Tampa Yacht and Country Club said it's trying to move their public hearing with city council from next week to September.