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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Drama swirls over large commercial annexation



A series of events made Tuesday’s night’s Largo City Commission meeting one of the oddest in quite a while. A vote was delayed and tempers flared over Largo’s largest commercial annexation since 2005. But much of the drama was between city officials.

It began with a decision to delay a vote mid-meeting. Property owner Lenny Rodgers, complained that he felt coerced to sign an annexation agreement by 5 p.m. on Tuesday or the deal was on the table. Another property owner complained, too. Then, Commissioner Curtis Holmes floated the idea of giving them a bit more time to sign annexation agreements, which include incentives for property owners to join the city. Commissioners discussed the suggestion. And five minutes later, Commissioner Mary Gray Black lit into City Attorney Alan Zimmet, saying he let the commission violate procedural rules, “Our city attorney sits there and let’s all of this discussion go on when we don’t have a motion and it’s not germane to the motion,” she said.

Meanwhile, former Mayor Bob Jackson dashed to the lectern.
“Bob this is not open to public comment,” Zimmet told him.
“You’ve already called people out of order,” Jackson shouted. “I should have the privilege of speaking too.”
Mayor Pat Gerard explained that the commission only let property owners speak.
Jackson interrupted her and urged commissioners to delay the vote until another meeting entirely, “It seems to me that if you haven’t made up your mind of what you want to do you shouldn’t pass this.” Jackson said. They should iron out the problems and do it the right way, he said.
Gerard sternly thanked him for his input. 

Rodgers decided to sign annexation agreements for his parcels.
And about an hour later, the commission, with Black dissenting, approved the annexation of about 123 acres near Ulmerton and Starkey roads.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 2:35pm]


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