TREASURE ISLAND — Two referendum questions relating to downtown redevelopment failed in the recent Treasure Island election but it seems that state legislators may have the final say on the issue.
Referendum Question 3, which would have allowed 60 hotel/motel units per acre downtown, failed to pass in a tie vote of 762 after a recount Friday. Question 5, which would have increased hotel/motel units to 60 per acre along the west side of Gulf Boulevard, failed in a 769 to 755 vote.
City attorney Maura Kiefer told commissioners Tuesday, however, that legislation now being considered in Tallahassee amending growth management laws would "strip the referendum requirement" for city governments as it relates to land development.
"It would mean that what you just went through (the election) is null and void," she said. If approved, city commissions would approve any changes in zoning and an election would not be necessary.
House Bill 537 and Senate Bill 528 prohibits a referendum for development orders and local comprehensive plan amendments and states that any referendums after June 2011 would be void.
Kiefer said she wants to send a letter to legislators asking why they would want to undo referendums that have already been approved.
"I just don't know where we stand if this legislation passes," she said.
Commissioner Alan Bildz said 10 years ago Treasure Island residents voted to require a referendum for all land development issues. The new legislation, which is now in committee in Tallahassee, would override that requirement.
City Manager Reid Silverboard said he is working on a zoning district proposal that would take into account the results of the referendum proposals that are aimed at revitalizing the city's core downtown area and west Gulf Boulevard. He expects to present his proposal to commissioners April 16.
The overlay district would apply to the western portion of Gulf Boulevard from the north end of town to 119th Avenue and the city's downtown core.
While the two defeated referendum proposals would have given developers more flexibility, Silverboard said he doesn't think not allowing motel/hotel lodging downtown or not increasing its density on the west side of Gulf Boulevard would make much difference to the city's redevelopment plans.
"We are still going ahead with downtown redevelopment," he said. "The most important part, mixed-use zoning with multifamily apartments above, passed."