Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Proposed St. Pete Beach advisory panel snags settlement of development lawsuits

ST. PETE BEACH — Disagreement over a proposed advisory committee is holding up settlement of six development-related lawsuits that to date have cost the city nearly $300,000.

City commissioners are reacting to "considerable negative public comment," according to City Manager Mike Bonfield, over how the members of the proposed Bridge to the Future Committee would be chosen.

Particularly at issue is the demand by residents suing the city that the seven-member committee be made up of three members appointed by plaintiffs William Pyle, Bruce Kadura and Richard McCormick; three members by citizen's group Save Our Little Village; and one member appointed by the City Commission.

"This method of selecting a board is wholly inconsistent with how our other charter boards are formed and is not acceptable to the City Commission," Bonfield said.

After meeting Monday night in closed session with city attorneys, the City Commission decided instead to propose a nine-member committee that would also give the commission three appointees.

That proposal — with the stipulation that the "offer" would end at noon Friday — was forwarded to Ken Weiss, attorney for the plaintiffs, Tuesday.

Weiss acknowledged receiving the settlement offer, but he declined to comment.

The city's counteroffer stipulates that none of the parties to the lawsuits can be members of the committee.

If the city, SOLV and the plaintiff's can reach an agreement, the controversial Bridge committee would be tasked with advising the commission on design and other issues relating to future developments within the city.

Bonfield said the city's version of the Bridge to the Future Blue-Ribbon Committee would serve "much the same role as previously envisioned" but stressed it would not be formally included in the city's comprehensive plan or land development code.

Ironically, the group would have no real power, except to advise the City Commission.

The character of future development projects was the focus of the lawsuits filed against the city and SOLV in an effort to halt implementation of the city's comprehensive plan. That plan was proposed by SOLV and approved by voters last year.

The parties to the lawsuits met informally over the summer in an attempt to resolve the development dispute and then entered formal mediation negotiations.

Those talks fell apart several weeks ago when the parties were unable to reach an agreement. An impasse was declared.

Several settlement agreements were subsequently offered and signed, although no single agreement was signed by all parties.

At one point, the city included the originally proposed Bridge committee in one of its settlement offers, but then withdrew that offer because of negative reactions from residents.

Last Tuesday, the commission was expected to approve the settlement, but after the commission met privately with its attorneys, Bonfield announced the commission was "not prepared" to discuss any settlement.

During a later public meeting, Pyle and SOLV representatives urged the City Commission to join them in signing the settlement that included the Bridge committee.

The commission took no action until almost a week later, when it met with its attorneys Monday and drafted what it says is its "last settlement proposal."

If the proposal is accepted, Bonfield said the City Commission will sign it at its next public meeting, on Nov. 30.

Voters would then be asked to ratify the settlement's changes to the city's comprehensive plan in a citywide referendum in March.

If there is no agreement, the city's legal bills will continue to mount on the six lawsuits.

"This is the City's last settlement proposal and they plan to go forward with litigation if this is unsatisfactory to your client," Heidi Truitt Campbell, a spokesperson for the city's legal firm, said in an e-mail to Weiss on Tuesday.

Proposed St. Pete Beach advisory panel snags settlement of development lawsuits 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 5:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.