Residents Oppose Canal Plan

By MARK HOLAN, The Tampa Tribune

Published: September 12, 2007

WEST SHORE - Opposition has emerged to a developer's plans to dredge canals and excavate new waterways for redevelopment of the Georgetown Apartments property.

Some residents on Flamingo Road say they are troubled by plans to dredge only about half the width of the channel separating their property from the development site to the south.

The homeowners say 40 years of tides and stormwater runoff has filled the channel with so much muck and silt that boats can only maneuver during high tide.

The developer, Motta Group of Fort Lauderdale, wants to dredge the channel to an average depth of about 5 1/2 feet at low tide.

'It's equal to them saying we are only going to pave the road closest to our property,' homeowner Sean V. Donnelly told the Tampa Port Authority during a hearing Friday.

'We believe they want to dredge it quickly, sell it quickly and get the hell out of there,' Donnelly said afterward.

Motta Group proposes dredging channels that extend from Old Tampa Bay to nearly West Shore Boulevard and form the northern and southern boundary of the 162-acre property. The developer also wants to dredge eight smaller canals and link them by excavating new canals.

Environmental and engineering consultants representing the developer told the port authority that it isn't safe to dredge the entire width of the northern channel because the work would likely undermine docks and sea walls on the Flamingo Road side.

Motta plans to rebuild the sea walls on its side of the channel.

Drew E. Sanders, of Biological Research Associates, said Motta would prevent runoff into the channel from the project site but couldn't do anything about the oily mess flowingfrom a city drainage culvert off West Shore.

He said the dredging would remove some mangroves from stagnant canals but create or improve about 7 acres of wetlands on the site.

Motta Group wants to build a 90-slip private marina along the southern channel and allow 99 more slips within the improved canal system. The existing marina and canal system have 174 slips.

The developer plans to raze the 624-unit Georgetown Apartments and replace it with 1,249 condos, town homes and single-family houses.

The dredging plan and other coastal work, including sea walls and breakwaters to prevent erosion along the Bay side of the property, have conditional approval from several state and local agencies.

The port authority hearing officer did not say when the agency's board of directors would consider the project.

Donnelly and other Flamingo residents said they support the redevelopment project but will fight for more dredging along the northern channel.

Roy Paskow, Motta Group principal, said he doesn't know when work will begin.

Reporter Mark Holan can be reached at (813) 835-2102 or

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