ST. PETERSBURG — As opponents prepare to challenge the city's annexation of commercial property at the tip of Tierra Verde, the City Council voted Thursday against any changes to state annexation laws that would make future border expansions more difficult.
The council voted unanimously against proposed state legislation Tierra Verde advocates call the "all or nothing bill" because it would require a municipality to annex the entire island or leave it alone.
The council also urged Pinellas lawmakers to vote against the bill when they convene in January. If the delegation approves the measure, the bill will go before the state Legislature.
The bill would take away the right of Tierra Verde property owners to voluntarily annex part of the island into a municipality and would create an unfair exemption to the state's annexation process, said council member Jeff Danner. All Tierra Verde residents would have to support future annexation under the proposed bill.
Tierra Verde advocates said they weren't surprised by the vote and still plan to file a lawsuit challenging the annexation this month.
"They are doing everything they can to prevent us from living in our island the way we want to live here," said Paul Murray, president of the Tierra Verde Community Association.
The council voted to annex 28 acres of Tierra Verde's waterfront commercial district in November, expanding St. Petersburg's border across the Pinellas Bayway and into the wealthy enclave.
The council also passed a resolution Thursday supporting state legislation to sunset the Pinellas Park Water Management District.
"They need to be congratulated and retired," said council member Karl Nurse.
The tax collecting district was created in 1975 to improve drainage and reduce stormwater flooding in southern Pinellas.
"We've still got about 10 more projects going on and the problem with all these people who want to sunset it is who is going to maintain them?" said Charles L. Tingler, chairman of the district. "We want to make sure that what's been done just doesn't deteriorate back to the way it was before the district was here."
Cristina Silva can be reached (727) 893-8846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.