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Annexation bill okayed by Senate

The state Senate passed a bill Friday that will allow Pinellas County cities to annex enclaves of 1 acre or less _ even without the property owner's consent.

The bill, which would take effect July 1, 1999, would transfer the responsibility of providing services such as police protection, garbage collection, water and sewer services from the county to cities.

Many of those services now are provided by cities.

"It's good to hear that they passed it," said Largo annexation manager Jim Madden. "We have a number of enclaves that may meet that criteria."

The bill was originally written to include all enclaves less than 3 acres but was amended while in committee in the state House of Representatives.

The House, which had acted on the measure earlier, passed it 116-4. The Senate's vote Friday was 39-1.

Gov. Lawton Chiles is expected to sign the measure into law.

Pinellas County commissioners opposed the legislation because the annexations could occur without resident approval. City leaders enthusiastically supported it, noting it would help simplify the process of providing services to residents.

In Dunedin, for example, Mayor Tom Anderson said city garbage collectors often haul trash from homes of residents in unincorporated enclaves who live in the same neighborhood as city residents.

An enclave is an unincorporated parcel surrounded by property within city limits.

"I would say it's a blow for efficiency in government. It's a good move," he said, after learning the bill had passed.

Dunedin officials said the new law will allow it to bring into the city 45 parcels and an estimated 135 residents.

Kenneth Judd, president of the South Pinellas Community Council, which represents 28 homeowner associations in unincorporated Pinellas, said the bill would only increase government bureaucracy and is an attempt by cities to increase their tax bases.

Judd said he will ask his members to send letters and faxes to the governor asking him to veto the bill.

"It is very unfair to a person to say you are going to live in a city whether you like it or not," said Judd. "It's taking away a person's liberties."

Anderson complained that some enclave residents put their garbage in nearby mobile home parks that are within city jurisdiction.

The bill would also allow cities to crack down on businesses who get around city code regulations by placing billboards in enclaves that would violate their ordinances.