TARPON SPRINGS — City commissioners will discuss whether to terminate a development agreement with retail giant Wal-Mart tonight at its regularly scheduled meeting.
Wal-Mart has allowed its application for a building permit to expire and the company has not approached the city with a revised site plan. That inaction could be considered a violation of the agreement, City Attorney Jim Yacavone said.
"We should get some type of finality with it," said Commissioner Robin Saenger. "It seems that the implied is that it was finished, but it was not formalized. I want us to look at our options and decide as a group and make a clear decision instead of letting it just drift along."
But Mayor Beverley Billiris said the city should allow the development agreement to simply expire instead of trying to revoke it. The five-year agreement was signed April 4, 2005, and would expire next April.
"It will naturally expire by itself," Billiris said. "I don't know what the urgency is to jump ahead of that. Wal-Mart said they've tabled it. If we make a move (to revoke the development agreement), that may trigger them to initiate a new application."
David Theriaque, Wal-Mart's attorney, declined to comment.
"This is the first I've heard about it," he said Monday of the discussion to potentially revoke the development agreement.
Yacavone said if the commission decides to rescind the development agreement, it could take at least three months. The process would include several public hearings, he said.
Wal-Mart hit a snag in its attempt to build a 203,000-square-foot supercenter on the banks of the Anclote River last October. The commission voted 3-2 that Wal-Mart had allowed its concurrency certificate to expire. To ensure that a development has the infrastructure such as roads and sewer to handle a project, the certificate is required.
For five years, a citizens group fought to keep Wal-Mart from building on a 74-acre site in Tarpon Springs. The group cited several reasons for its opposition, including protecting the environmentally sensitive area from the large amount of traffic a supercenter would bring.
Billiris said she wants to ensure that "we are looking out for the best interest of the city."
"You don't want to get so hung up on and so against Wal-Mart that you lose sight of the city, because it was an excellent development agreement," she said.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4174.