ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council voted Thursday to limit the number of land use changes that would require voter approval if Florida Hometown Democracy's Amendment 4 passes in November.
In a 7-1 vote, council members voted to adopt a new map that takes the existing 23 land use categories and puts them into five broader categories that will dictate what type of developments can go where.
Council member Steve Kornell voted against the measure.
The measure will come before the council for a second vote in September. Council members want the new land use map to be approved before voters decide on Amendment 4, which would require voters to approve any changes to a city's land use plan.
Currently, council members and the state approve changes made to cities' land use plans.
Speakers during the council's public comment session Thursday were divided over their support of the proposed land use map and Amendment 4.
No one criticized the map, and most said it was a good solution to a complex issue. But speakers repeatedly asked council members to wait until Amendment 4 was decided before revising the land use map.
"If it's that great, let the people vote," Cathy Harrelson said after the meeting. "What's the fear of having it go to referendum?"
In his vote against the map, Kornell said he was for the revisions in general and against Amendment 4 but wanted voters to have a chance to decide.
Council member Karl Nurse proposed the simplified map as a way to prepare for Amendment 4 if it is passed. He and others shared concerns Thursday over how it would be implemented, including who will pay for the referendums.
Jill Yelverton, a Dade City resident with Florida Hometown Democracy, criticized council members for what she described as a "father knows best" attitude.
"What St. Petersburg is attempting is an end-run around our constitutional rights," Yelverton said.
"These kinds of tricky maneuvers designed to circumvent the will of the people are exactly why … Amendment 4 is necessary in the first place."
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