Safety Harbor residents are giving a proposed apartment complex mixed reviews. A residential property developer wants to build a 276-unit complex on State Road 590, at the current site of the Firmenich Citrus Center.
Tom Ferraro lives nearby. He is worried that adding that many new residents will create a traffic nightmare.
"My wife and I were joking we'd need to get a yellow flag just to back out of the driveway," he said.
Other neighbors agree. Right next door to Ferraro, a huge sign is posted, asking drivers to imagine 500 more cars on the road. Residents are being urged to tell the city of Safety Harbor they don't new apartments.
Ferraro said he also worries about his privacy.
"You figure four stories of building, somebody is going to have a 4th story balcony that's going to be looking into my backyard," he said.
But other neighbors take a more positive approach to the problem. Nina Pilon's property backs up to the Firmenich plant. She said high-end apartments would be an improvement over the old factory. She also thinks adding residents will help businesses in downtown Safety Harbor.
"Adding the folks will help us," she said.
Pilon also believes State Road 590 can be improved to handle the added traffic. She's seen traffic studies that estimate the increased commute time during the morning rush hour would only be 58 seconds.
But residents like Ferraro don't care if it's 58 seconds, or 15 minutes. He and others plan to protest the apartment project outside the Firmenich plant at 5 p.m. on Friday.
"You can't deny the impact that's going to happen with another 450 parking spaces," Ferraro said.
Safety Harbor's City Commission will hear a first reading of the proposal on February 4th. That meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at Safety Harbor City Hall.
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