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. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.