ST. PETE BEACH — To rousing applause and not a single objection, commissioners unanimously reapproved the comprehensive plan, the city's official guidepost for future development, Tuesday.
The plan is still subject to several lawsuits that are now on appeal, one of which the City Commission refused to settle Tuesday.
"The litigation is ongoing, but this vote will allow you to keep it in effect," City Attorney Mike Davis told the commission.
Davis stressed that the comprehensive plan has the approval of the state Department of Community Affairs and, with an updated state law, can be reapproved by the commission "without going back through the elaborate processes" required by the state's Growth Management Act.
"You have already done that, they have signed off on it," Davis said.
When Mayor Steve McFarlin asked if anyone in the audience wanted to comment, there was silence.
"You've got to be kidding," said Commissioner Marvin Shavlan.
When McFarlin then asked for commissioners' comments, Bev Garnett laughed and apologized for not bringing champagne.
Shavlan then praised the city's attorneys for lobbying the Legislature to change state law to allow the city to reapprove the comprehensive plan.
"You really came through for us and I want to commend you on that," Shavlan said.
"Thank you," Davis said.
McFarlin also thanked the city's residents for the "many, many years of compromise, communication, arguing, (and) loving" that it took for the plan to go fully into effect.
"This plan is not written in stone. It's a vision, and visions change as time changes," McFarlin said. "This is just a start to St. Pete Beach being put back on the map. I'm proud to be part of it."
Since the plan was approved by voters in 2008, a series of lawsuits, costing the city nearly $1 million to date, challenged both the substance of the plan and the referendum ballot language.
Dr. William Pyle, a resident who successfully challenged that ballot language in Circuit Court, recently offered to waive his right to seek attorneys' fees from the city, as well as withdraw a recent complaint seeking court sanctions against the city's attorneys, provided the city agree to withdraw its appeal.
On a tersely worded unanimous vote Tuesday to deny the request, the City Commission refused.