Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Divided commission gives Pinellas exemption from cites' development rules

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners handed themselves a trump card over cities' regulations Tuesday night, despite divisions in their own ranks.

The commission voted 4-3 for an ordinance to exempt the county from city development laws and permit fees, though St. Petersburg and Largo officials warned that Pinellas was overreaching.

The vote gives the county power to use its own rules and permit fees when it does construction projects, if city rules conflict with county standards. The ordinance draws on authority granted in the county charter.

"We're not bullies. We're not taking something that is not due for ours," Commissioner Norm Roche said.

But the broad measure worried Commissioners Ken Welch, Karen Seel and John Morroni, who voted no. Welch suggested it could unsettle relationships with city officials on bigger issues, as Pinellas wrestles with St. Petersburg and other cities over changes to control spending on emergency medical services.

While the county has used similar authority on individual projects, Pinellas had never imposed a measure as far reaching as this one.

"I don't think this is the time to do this," Welch said.

This summer, Pinellas officials decided they wanted to save money on permit fees for an $81 million public safety complex in Largo. The city's fees would cost Pinellas more than $200,000 above the county's own fees. Unable to negotiate lower fees, County Administrator Bob LaSala decided to pull rank.

The county charter gives Pinellas authority over its parks and countywide programs such as emergency services, courts, public safety and animal services, among others.

"We would never do something that would violate the wishes of a community," said Commission Chairwoman Susan Latvala, who voted for the ordinance with Roche and Commissioners Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock.

But municipal officials warn it will hurt their control over the fabric of their communities. St. Petersburg City Council member Jeff Danner and Largo officials urged the county to work with cities case by case instead of passing the measure.

St. Petersburg's chief assistant city attorney, Mark Winn, also argued that the ordinance goes beyond the powers the charter gives the county. The charter gives the county control over services, but never intended to exempt the county from local development regulations cities worked hard to create, he said.

"I don't think that's a power the voters intended to give the county when the charter was adopted in 1980," he said.

The county delayed a vote on the measure last month to try to ease cities' concerns after complaints, particularly from Mayor Bill Foster of St. Petersburg.

Foster, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, had warned that the county could use the powers and allow a flashing billboard in downtown St. Petersburg and render panhandling restrictions moot on the Pinellas Trail — charges that county officials rebutted as hyperbole.

In a letter Tuesday, Foster avoided the rhetoric, but he still objected to the measure, saying he "cannot accept having to surrender" hundreds of acres of county-owned land from the city's regulations.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/decamptimes.

.fast facts

Changes proposed for pain clinics in county

The County Commission will consider ending a moratorium since 2010 on new pain management clinics in Pinellas by creating mandatory permits for clinics that issue prescription drugs. A registration process for existing sites was created last year. The proposed ordinance would allow the county to shut down existing or new clinics found to be fraudulent, so-called pill mills, said Commission Chairwoman Susan Latvala, who has led the board's fight against prescription drug abuse. By law, the county cannot keep the moratorium permanently, she said. A public hearing will be Nov. 8.

Divided commission gives Pinellas exemption from cites' development rules 10/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 11:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and similar events, saying they are inappropriate could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  2. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  3. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  4. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  5. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence

    National

    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …