A noisy gym that’s been operating for more than a year without a business tax receipt — despite complaints from neighbors — got another pass last month from the city.
City commissioners voted 3-2 on May 28 to approve a revision to a previously OK’d plat (map for the site) amendment, paving the way for Challenge Fitness to legally obtain a business tax receipt.
The property at 2040 N. Dixie Highway is the future home of a nearly $15 million, 48-unit LGBT-friendly affordable housing project for seniors to be built by Carrfour Supportive Housing Inc. The gym is located on property owned by the Pride Center.
“The current retail occupant, a violation of the current plat restriction, and unlicensed, has been a nuisance since its inception. The Pride Center has refused to intervene in this nuisance,” neighbor Matt Dreger, president of the nearby Townhomes of Riverside Homeowners Association, told the Commission. “After 13 months and nearly $7,000 costs to the city, the only compromise was how much noise can we stand.”
Dreger implored commissioners to delay their vote without success. He has complained to the city about lighting issues, drainage problems and noise from the Pride Center property for the past year.
The plat originally designated the current land use as industrial. The changes designate 60,000 square feet of community (30,000 square feet of existing and 30,000 square feet of proposed); 4,000 square feet of office; 6,000 square feet of commercial; and 48 mid-rise units and accessory residential uses. The city approved the plat amendment last year but had to revisit it last month due to minor language changes requested by the county.
The plat amendment now makes it legal for the noisy business to continue operation.
Commissioners Paul Rolli and Gary Resnick voted “no.”
“I am very concerned we are going to be expanding the ability for the uses of this property that are going to be inconsistent with the residential units next door and create more of a nuisance to them,” said Resnick, who also suggested delaying the vote. “I have absolutely no evidence that they are willing to comply with our code so I’m not in favor of supporting this today.”
Commissioner Julie Carson sympathized with Dreger but voted for the plat revision anyway.
“Part of my difficulty is balancing what our ordinances say and what we are required to do and also making sure we preserve the integrity of the neighborhood,” Carson said. She assured Dreger his concerns did not “fall on deaf ears.”
Dreger is also upset because the project proposed by Carrfour routs stormwater across the Homeowners Association’s land. The easement agreement does not allow flow from any new drainage infrastructure on the adjacent property through the Association’s property and they are unwilling to revise the agreement so far out of fear additional water flow will cause flooding issues.
The Pride Center has no plans to upgrade its stormwater system, Dreger said.
Rolli said the issue is much bigger than concern over a business operating without a business tax receipt.
“The real issue is we don’t have a landlord or property owner that commands the tenants. The Pride Center is a community center and their business is to provide community services,” Rolli said. “It seems to be they are more in the real estate business than providing community services. They are leasing out their land to build affordable housing, they lease a lot of their office space. So are we in the real estate business or in community services? My concern is about the future. Is that going to be an impact on the neighborhood?”
Dreger expressed similar sentiments.
“This property is supposed to be the gay and lesbian community center, not a multi-rental money grab for the Pride Center,” Dreger noted. “The Pride Center has not conducted business with a good neighbor policy.”