Bill would require annexation of all or nothing of East Lake

EAST LAKE — East Lake residents will get a third stab at persuading Florida lawmakers to safeguard them from piecemeal annexation.

But state Sen. Jack Latvala has a warning. The chances of success with Republican leadership, specifically in the House, still stink in 2012.

"They don't like this bill," said Latvala, R-Clearwater, suggesting that local lawmakers were moving the bill as a favor to residents.

The county's Legislative Delegation on Thursday unanimously approved a bill requiring neighboring cities to annex all of the 33,000-person East Lake community, or none of it.

The delegation's approval was necessary to take the bill to the full Legislature for consideration in the 2012 session.

State Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, and state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, sponsored the bill, although neither attended Thursday's delegation meeting in St. Petersburg. The vote was 7-0.

East Lake neighborhood leaders asked for the bill after Oldsmar lost a vote to annex part of the area in 2009. They say the communities there want to stay together — and out of nearby cities that covet the lucrative tax base there. The new law would force city officials to make an argument for the whole area to be annexed.

But similar bills went nowhere with lawmakers when the bills reached Tallahassee the past two sessions. Council of North County Neighborhoods president Don Ewing lobbied again for it Thursday, noting that the proposed law carries a 10-year sunset provision for it to expire.

Oldsmar, which neighbors the unincorporated East Lake area, opposes the bill.

The legislation is similar to the "all or nothing" legislation passed in 2009 for Tierra Verde, where St. Petersburg annexed 18 acres to the anger of many residents. That annexation was upheld in a court fight.

State Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, mentioned that bill's success as a reason for hope for the legislation for East Lake.

"Give the folks some piece of mind in that area," Jones said.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/decamptimes.

Bill would require annexation of all or nothing of East Lake 10/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 27, 2011 6:46pm]

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