PORT RICHEY — After 20-plus years of doing business near the corner of Sun Glo Avenue and Washington Street, Airprompt Air Conditioning and Electric needs some more room to operate.
The business’ owner, John St. Martin, found that space in two parcels of vacant land on the other end of Sun Glo Avenue, at its intersection with Leo Kidd Avenue. But before St. Martin can move his company the short distance down the road, he needed the two parcels to be rezoned from R-2 residential to C-3 commercial.
City Council heard his case during its Dec. 10 meeting. After discussing the change for more than an hour and addressing a couple concerns, council voted 5-0 in favor of rezoning.
The two adjacent parcels are to the northwest of Sun Glo and Leo Kidd avenues. According to St. Martin, he plans to build a warehouse on each parcel.
One would be for Airprompt Air Conditioning and Electric’s operations and would include office space. A St. Martin associate would store antique vehicles in the other warehouse.
St. Martin said he plans to rent out Airprompt’s current 5,500-square-foot building, at Sun Glo Avenue and Washington Street.
City Council’s primary concerns with the proposal was the parcels’ location near other residential properties on Sun Glo Avenue and how the Airprompt parcel could be used in the future if zoned C-3.
The majority of parcels on Sun Glo are zoned residential, but the surrounding area is primarily commercial and light industrial. City staff and various committees have been researching and discussing the rezoning proposal for months. In addition, Police Chief Gerard DeCanio has raised concerns about adding commercial traffic on Sun Glo Avenue. He issued an inter-office memo on Sept. 3 stating that there are families with children who often play in the streets.
In response, St. Martin proposed having the majority of traffic entering and exiting Leo Kidd Avenue.
“When they agreed to have all their traffic come in off Leo Kidd, that’s when I changed my opinion on it and I think it’ll be a safe operation,” DeCanio said at last week’s council session.
St. Martin said that his company been at the western end of Sun Glo Avenue for two decades and box trucks and service vehicles driving on the street has never been a problem. The entrance to the current business location has always been via Sun Glo Avenue.
Adding sidewalks to the property also helped ease safety concerns of councilmembers and city staff.
Another potential issue, raised by Councilman Todd Maklary, was how the property could be used after being switched to C-3. That zoning designation permits a wide array of business operations, such as motels, pet shops, auto repair garages and indoor shooting ranges.
Council briefly discussed rezoning the parcels but adding restrictions as to what businesses could operate there, but future buyers could be turned off by the properties’ limited use.
During deliberations with the city’s Planning and Zoning Board in November, St. Martin agreed to install fencing and shrubbery buffering on portions of the properties.
“I think that would definitely help the neighborhood,” Councilman William Dittmer said, adding that the two vacant parcels have been blighted for years. “I think it’s a good location for that (property use). I know we used to get a lot of calls from the Sun Glo area, so it will be nice to see a nice building there.”
“I think it’s going to be excellent for the neighborhood because it’s going to have the fencing and everything that will be much nicer to look at for the people that live there,” Councilwoman Jennie Sorrell said.