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  1. St. Petersburg

Driftwood historic designation to be revisited

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council, which voted on March 7 to designate the Driftwood neighborhood a historic district, agreed recently to rehear the request.

In asking for the rehearing, Elizabeth Abernethy, director of planning and development services, said it was prompted by new evidence presented by opponents during the March council meeting and "a potentially substantial change of circumstances."

The issue of whether ballots from Driftwood property owners — necessary for going forward with the designation — had been postmarked or date-stamped was discussed at the March 7 meeting.

Previous coverage: Despite opposition, Driftwood has become St. Petersburg's newest historic district

As part of their reqest for a rehearing, staff presented a log showing the arrival of the disputed ballots. Managing assistant city attorney Michael Dema noted that the city code calls for a date stamp, but that there was concern that some evidence had not been viewed by the council.

"Right now, that log isn't in the record and we think it would bolster the city's decision making process if it were in there," Dema said.

"I voted for the district and I want the district to be designated," Council Chair Charlie Gerdes said. The best way to protect that vote, he said, "is to open the record back up and put this evidence in....The record will be much stronger."

The downside, Gerdes added, will be that the Driftwood designation would be delayed. Council will vote again on the designation on May 16.