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The Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 13 meeting turned down hotelier Benedikt Fritzsche’s application to enter into a development agreement with the city to build a modified version of Cambria by the Sponge Docks, a proposed multi-story hotel on Roosevelt Boulevard and Hill Street.

TARPON SPRINGS — The fourth time proved not to be the charm for a proposed plan to build an 80-room hotel in the city’s historic Sponge Docks district.

The Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 13 meeting turned down hotelier Benedikt Fritzsche’s application to enter into a development agreement with the city to build a modified version of Cambria by the Sponge Docks, a proposed multi-story hotel on Roosevelt Boulevard and Hill Street.

The board effectively killed the proposed development agreement application by declining to vote on it.

Fritzsche, who approached the city with his hotel plan in February, has previously appeared twice before the Tarpon Springs Planning and Zoning Board in May and June, and the Board of Commissioners in July.

The modified hotel proposal would reduce the number of rooms to 80 from its originally proposed 109, reducing the hotel size by approximately 20%. However, the proposed four-story version would likely be longer length-wise, Fritzsche said.

City officials in July had recommended that Fritzsche come back to the city with a smaller hotel proposal that would consist of 50 to 60 rooms.

In response, commissioners disapproved of Fritzsche’s 80-room proposal.

“I don’t think an 80-room hotel is generally accepted by Tarpon Springs’ citizens, not by what he heard in the last round here,” said Vice Mayor Craig Lunt.

Commissioner Michael Eisner said an 80-room hotel proposal is unacceptable.

“This is like a repeat (proposal) to me,” Eisner said. “The city is seeking a 50-60 room hotel — we can’t do 80 rooms.”

Eisner said the hotel scale would not fit into the Sponge Docks area.

“It’s not an appropriate place to build such a structure which such a large amount of traffic,” Eisner said. “There is no way in and out of the area; this is not a great place to build a hotel.”

Commissioner Panagiotis “Peter” Koulias said the board first needs to rewrite the city’s land use codes.

“There’s issues in our land development codes that we did not create,” Koulias said. “This stuff is going to get addressed soon; we are about a year out from looking at a hotel.”

Commissioner Jacob Karr said “it would be advantageous” for the city to move forward by approving a hotel development agreement, but they should first negotiate with hotelier Fritzsche the actual final height for the building.

“We don’t usually have building developers who come in here who are accommodating and willing to work with the city,” Karr said. “I support the development agreement.”

Former Tarpon Springs Mayor Anita Protos said any hotel proposal should not include the city vacating its right-of-way on Hill Street.

“I don’t see the point here to an 80-room hotel,” said Tina Bucuvalas, president of the Greektown Preservation & Heritage Association Inc., who objected to the modified hotel proposal, saying “it ignores the will of the city resident and city boards.”

Added Bucuvalas: “This hotel also creates a significant adverse impact to the city’s historical resources, sets a dangerous city precedent, is incongruent with Greektown’s (height) scale,” and would generate “too much traffic congestion.”

City resident Sharon Landrum said the Sponge Docks district is an inappropriate hotel location.

“There’s a need for a hotel in Tarpon Springs, but not in this area,” Landrum said. “It’s just not the right place with all the traffic. The need is out on Alt. 19.”

One resident not opposed to the proposed hotel was Sherry Wendt, a member of the Tarpon Springs Merchants Association, who told commissioners there is support for the proposal.

“A lot of people like me want a hotel,” Wendt said. “It is just not the Greek community; that there is more than the Greek community. Just think about it.”