Lawmakers seek to make annexing tougher
ST. PETERSBURG -- Pinellas County legislators want to make it tougher for cities to annex in Lealman and East Lake neighborhoods after St. Petersburg's disputed annexation of part of Tierra Verde.
Lawmakers voted 11-0 today to support a bill by Rep. Peter Nehr, R- Tarpon Springs, that would require cities to annex "all or nothing" of East Lake neighborhoods, notably East Lake Woodlands. It also requires a referendum to make the annexation stick. Nehr and New Port Richey Sen. Mike Fasano's bill is modeled after a similar law passed last session protecting Tierra Verde.
But Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, added another wrinkle: Lealman, another annexation target, would get similar protections, until 2017.
The measures came as several lawmakers nudged the county and cities to work out a solution to annexation fights that consumed them over the years -- and let to recent requests to protect unincorporated areas.
"My concern was we were going to see them come back and come back and come back," said Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg. "And here we are this year."
David DeCamp, Times staff writer