Drive­way drama: You are clear to park

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - BY SU­SAN TAY­LOR MAR­TIN

Set against city of St. Peters­burg land, the lay­out was prob­lem­atic.

ST. PETERS­BURG — The Great Drive­way Flap has been re­solved — al­most.

Af­ter some con­fu­sion, the city’s De­vel­op­ment Re­view Com­mis­sion agreed Wed­nes­day that Larry and Dana Cremo can park in their $15,000 drive­way as long as they re­move a small por­tion close to city-owned prop­erty.

“I feel ab­so­lutely ter­rific,’’ Cremo, a for­mer Navy and Delta Air­lines pi­lot said af­ter the hear­ing. “It’s a com­pro­mise but I’ve al­ways been open to a com­pro­mise.’’

As part of a ma­jor home ren­o­va­tion, the Cre­mos in­stalled what ac­tu­ally is a park­ing pad made of

pavers in front of their house on Beach Drive in the Old North­east. They had been park­ing there for sev­eral months when an in­spec­tor cited them in Jan­uary for vi­o­lat­ing codes by put­ting in what the city claimed was an il­le­gal drive­way.

At Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing, the Cre­mos sought an af­ter-the­fact vari­ance to use their front park­ing area. Things got off to a tense start be­cause of a city staff re­port that in­di­cated — in­cor­rectly — that the cou­ple also sought ap­proval to ex­tend the pad/drive­way to Beach Drive.

“No! No! No!” Cremo told the com­mis­sion­ers. “We never, ever acted to con­nect to Beach Drive.’’

The Cre­mos’ ar­chi­tect, Jim Bed­ing­haus, said the site plans he ini­tially drew up showed the paved area ex­tend­ing across city land to Beach Drive. But af­ter a zon­ing of­fi­cial said the Cre­mos would need a vari­ance to do that, Bed­ing­haus re­vised the plans to keep the park­ing pad en­tirely on their prop­erty. Those re­vised plans were okayed, he said.

“The signed and sealed con­struc­tion doc­u­ments are the ones to go by,’’ he told com­mis­sion­ers. “Ev­ery­thing shown in the draw­ings in­volv­ing the site plans was ap­proved by the city.’’

Those draw­ings, how­ever, could not be lo­cated Wed­nes­day.

“What con­cerns me is that no­body can pro­duce the draw­ing that was ap­proved,’’ Com­mis­sioner John Barie said. “It blows apart the no­tion that we have an or­derly process here.’’

Com­mis­sion chair­man Matt Walker, a pro­fes­sional en­gi­neer, said he un­der­stood the Cre­mos’ frus­tra­tion at be­ing cited for a code vi­o­la­tion af­ter a city of­fi­cial said they did not need a vari­ance.

“When city staff tells us we can do some­thing, we de­pend on that,’’ he said. Walker added that many other houses along Beach Drive have drive­ways that ex­tend to the street.

“You’re not ap­prov­ing any­thing that’s go­ing to stand out,’’ he told other com­mis­sion­ers.

Af­ter it was pointed out to them, the Cre­mos ac­knowl­edged that their pad was in­stalled closer than al­lowed to city land. They agreed to re­move about 60 square feet of pavers to com­ply with code.

“We’ll take it out and be able to park, which was the whole ob­jec­tive,’’ Cremo said.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Dana and Larry Cremo pose on the drive­way they added to their St. Peters­burg home. They’ll have to re­move some pavers.

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