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St. Pete Beach seeks dismissal of lawsuits stemming from comprehensive plan

ST. PETE BEACH — The city's attorneys are hoping multiple legal actions challenging the city's comprehensive plan will be thrown out of court.

"We will ask that the court dismiss all appeals as moot," City Attorney Susan Churuti told the City Commission on Tuesday. "That is the shortest and quickest and cheapest way of getting you out of those cases."

Over the past few years, the city has spent nearly a million dollars defending challenges to the plan and the citywide referendum that approved it.

Although the city won most legal challenges to the content of the plan, it lost a case in Circuit Court last year when Judge David Demers invalidated the 2008 referendum election when he ruled the ballot wording did not properly inform voters that building heights would be changed.

A number of those cases are now being appealed by one side or the other. New actions alleging Sunshine Law violations relating to those cases also have been filed against the city and its attorneys.

"It would moot them all out," Churuti said. "It would all be over. That is our goal."

The comprehensive plan was approved by voters in 2008, at a time when the city's charter required voter approval for any changes in land use or zoning that affected building heights or density.

Another voter referendum last spring repealed those charter provisions.

The state had approved the city's comprehensive plan after the 2008 referendum. Because of that, and because of a new state law, the city was able to reapprove its 2008 comprehensive plan in June without having to seek state approval again.

The city's attorneys say reapproving that plan made the legal actions no longer viable.

A number of mostly house-keeping amendments to the plan, previously approved by the state, were approved by the commission Tuesday.

One of those amendments may be changed again after a yet-to-be scheduled workshop debate over how a pool of additional tourist density units will be allocated throughout the city.

The amendment approved Tuesday allows 350 tourist lodging units, originally intended for the Corey Avenue area, to be used as well along the east side of Gulf Boulevard.

St. Pete Beach seeks dismissal of lawsuits stemming from comprehensive plan 07/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 3:24pm]
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