Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawsuit to save St. Petersburg Pier in the hands of judge

ST. PETERSBURG — The lawsuit filed by a former City Council member to save the Pier is now in the hands of a judge.

After listening to arguments for three hours Wednesday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Day told former council member Kathleen Ford and city lawyers that he will soon rule on the case.

Day didn't give a time frame for the ruling, but he called the case "a mildly complex situation."

At the start of the hearing, Day told Ford and Joe Patner, the city's head litigator, that he didn't want to hear St. Petersburg politics or policy in the arguments.

"That's not the court's role," he said.

The controversy surrounds a petition drive organized to give residents a vote on the fate of the city's current Pier. The City Council rejected the effort after a group amassed more than 20,000 signatures.

Day could rule for either side or decide to send the case to trial.

The petition dominated much of the hearing.

Patner argued that the petition contained too many ambiguities such as "preserve and refurbish the existing iconic landmark" and that the group wanted the city to make the petition legal.

But Day wondered if the 20,000 petitioners are now being ignored, adding: "That's problematic."

Patner agreed: "It's a shame they weren't presented with a legal, valid petition."

"We think the petition speaks for itself," Ford countered.

Day replied: "It appears to not have professional expertise going into it."

The hearing at times had the feeling of a professor holding court with two students around a coffee table. Several times Day asked the lawyers to stop talking while he read case law or searched for files on his computer and desk.

Day also interrupted both lawyers to encourage them to catch their breath. He even jokingly asked whether St. Petersburg had a mechanism to impeach Mayor Bill Foster. Patner declined to answer the question since his response would be on the evening news.

Ford and Patner also debated the intent of the City Charter.

Ford contends that the charter requires a voter referendum to demolish waterfront property such as the Pier.

Patner argued that the city is simply replacing the structure, not selling or transferring rights to another party.

Ford and five other residents filed the lawsuit in August for the referendum. It also asks for a temporary injunction to halt the Pier's demolition. The Pier is scheduled to close May 31, with demolition to start in late summer.

Patner and Ford both declined to comment after the hearing.

Lawsuit to save St. Petersburg Pier in the hands of judge 03/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Cal Foote said he was so young when his father, Adam, played in the NHL, he didn't remember their hug in the Avalanche's dressing room during the 2001 Stanley Cup celebration.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.