The Clearwater, Fla., City Council on Oct. 22 narrowly approved an amendment to the city’s Community Development Code that will allow cars, boats and recreational vehicles to be sold, with certain restrictions, at outdoor and tent shows within the city limits. The vote was 3-2, with Mayor Frank Hibbard and Councilwoman Carlen Petersen dissenting, according to the Clearwater Beacon.
The council had previously asked the city’s planning department to prepare an amendment that would allow such sales. The planners came up with a proposal that will allow the sales up to four times a year as a “temporary use” of properties at least 75 contiguous acres in size, principally Clearwater and Westfield Countryside malls. Petersen noted that such sales are already taking place at Clearwater Mall.
The council members readily accepted the frequency of the shows and the property size restriction, but they disagreed on the duration of the shows. The planning staff had recommended 48 hours of setup time, followed by a four-day show and 48 hours of tear-down time.
“I am concerned about the 48-hour setup and 48-hour takedown,” Councilman George Cretekos said. He proposed a total of 72 hours for setting up and taking down the tents. But Michael Delk, the city’s planning director, said that the tents are large and that might not be enough time.
“Experience tells the operator that 96 hours are what’s needed,” Westfield’s attorney, Ed Armstrong, told the council. But Petersen and Hibbard questioned whether the shows should be allowed at all.
“We’re talking about these huge, massive shows with massive tents,” Petersen said. “I don’t think that’s something we need in Clearwater Mall and Westfield Countryside (Mall). I can’t support this … I don’t think it’s something the neighborhood wants.” She added that the four shows, combined with the four other events that is held there annually, would total eight events per year at Clearwater Mall.
Mayor Hibbard acknowledged that Westfield has been a good corporate citizen of Clearwater, but he couldn’t bring himself to support the tent shows, where everything that is on display would be for sale.
“I’m not crazy about this,” Hibbard said. “I think it detracts from the community. But on the other hand, the commerce is important to us.” He added that he could tolerate the shows if they were tasteful, but “it’s hard to make those shows, to me, tasteful.”
When it became obvious that the measure would pass, the only bone of contention was the duration of the setup time, shows and take-down time.
“I would prefer that we limit it to one week, total,” Cretekos said, and made a motion to that effect. Under it, if setup and take-down takes more than 72 hours combined, the show must be shortened accordingly.
The motion passed by a 3-2 majority.