City Council approves Tierra Verde annexation
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dozens of Tierra Verde residents who showed up at City Hall today to protest the city's plans to annex nearly 28 acres of the unincorporated community did not dissuade the City Council from moving ahead with it.
The council voted unanimously to continue with the annexation, which extends St. Petersburg boundaries to include about 10 acres of submerged land and 18 acres of commercial property.
Mayor Rick Baker, whose staff advised the council to move forward, said the council's decision was appropriate.
"Anytime you annex a new property, you increase your tax base," Baker said.
Paul Murray, president of the Tierra Verde Community Association, said he was not surprised by the vote.
"They want the money," he said. "If they do this, they can be assured that there will be an appeal."
Another hearing and a final vote are scheduled Nov. 17.
The council angered some of the residents when it delayed the hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m.
The council held two other public hearings scheduled but declined to start the Tierra Verde discussion so they would not hold up city staff there to discuss other matters.
"We are going to do it last," City Attorney John Wolfe told a reporter. "We are not going to tie up staff till 11 o'clock at night."
City Council Chairman Jamie Bennett said the delay will allow the council to focus on the Tierra Verde issue. "That way we can have no disruptions,'' Bennett said. "Everyone will get their say.''
But no explanation was provided to the nearly 50 people who have been waiting in the council chamber.
That outraged Tierra Verde resident Greg Pentek.
"There are a bunch of people from Tierra Verde who are now going home. They took off time from work to be here," he said. "It smells to me that they are stalling so that people will leave."
Baker's staff recommended the council annex nearly 28 acres, including a marina, a condominium complex and a convenience store. Residents worry the city would allow more intense development than the county allows. They also point out that the land is connected to the city only by bridge.
Residents said today they don't want the city to annex the land because it would erode their tax base if they move ahead with discussions about incorporating as a separate city.
- Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer