Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach will vote on development issues

A new commission elected on promises of compromise over the city's development issues has delivered.

Within hours of being sworn in, Mayor Michael Finnerty and Commissioners Alan Halpern and Christopher Leonard were faced with a presentation on the lawsuit surrounding the Save Our Little Village political group's petitions.

The commission agreed unanimously to try and settle with SOLV and schedule an election for the petition items, which include an amended comprehensive plan.

The agreement followed an order from Circuit Judge David A. Demers on March 13, requiring that the city hold an election on the petition items and setting another hearing this Monday.

The previous commission had refused to put the items to vote, arguing that comprehensive plans cannot be passed by a referendum vote and expressing concerns about the increases in building height and density that it contained.

"We've got a judge's decision that it should go to voters and it's in our charter," Finnerty said, referring to the charter requirement that petition items be voted on within 90 days.

"This is the first real test, I guess, as to how people within our city feel about height and density."

City Attorney Ralf Brookes, City Manager Mike Bonfield and Commissioner Harry Metz met with SOLV on Wednesday to discuss a settlement agreement.

A main concern over the petition items has been how to implement them. Comprehensive plans usually go through a series of local and state planning agencies before they are finalized and there's an additional requirement in the city's charter that any changes to the city's comprehensive plan be voted on by residents.

"We've been successful so far, in finding ways that we could agree to implement the proposed ordinances," attorney Robert K. Lincoln, who represents SOLV, said. "These are the kinds of things that could have been worked out 90 or 120 days ago, if the city would have gotten involved as soon as the petitions were turned in."

Instead the city has ended up in court with two lawsuits filed by SOLV, leading to mounting attorney's fees and arguments over development that weighed heavily on the last commission.

"We need to get it over with and get back to basic business in the city," Metz said.

Now Brookes and Lincoln are working on a settlement in hopes that the judge will give them an extension on Monday, to finalize the details.

It remains to be seen when the elections will be held, but the date of May 20 has been suggested.

That would give the city enough time to organize an election for the SOLV items and several other pending comprehensive plan changes that need to be voted on.

If the SOLV items are approved, they would likely go to the local and state planning agencies before returning to the residents for final approval.

The judge will also hear from St. Pete Beach resident William Pyle's attorneys at Monday's hearing.

Pyle, who funds the city's rival political group, Citizens for Responsible Growth, intervened in the first SOLV case last year.

Nick Johnson can be reached at or 893-8361.

St. Pete Beach will vote on development issues 03/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2008 3:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mayor Rick Kriseman says election is about moving forward


    Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office  Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward..

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  2. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection


    MULBERRY — The local high school has an enrollment of 1,000 but to some it feels like a tight-knit family. Many of Mulberry High School's students have spent all of their school days within the city limits, said principal Michael Young.

    Pepe Salgado, 18, was killed Friday along with his sister Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15, in a car crash in Plant City. They were passengers in a car driven by their cousin Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, who was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was listed in critical condition. All three lived in Mulberry and attended Mulberry High School. [Polk County School District]
  3. Assisted living facility owner accused of sexually assaulting employee in Pinellas


    ST. PETERSBURG — An assisted living facility owner was arrested Thursday on charges that he sexually assaulted an employee, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach



    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  5. Editorial: Honoring a solemn sacrifice


    For a nation still slogging away in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones across the globe, this Memorial Day holiday marks the latest commemoration of sacrifice abroad, of uncertainty over America's role in securing the globe and of the country's great debt to its military families. The peace of yesterday is almost …