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    County's response pleases residents

    By CANDACE RONDEAUX
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 24, 2002

    GULFPORT -- About 200 South Pasadena residents met with Pinellas County officials Thursday evening to talk about submerged lands owned by real estate speculator Don Connolly.

    The officials, including County Commissioner Ken Welch and County Attorney Susan Churuti, fielded a barrage of questions.

    Connolly paid $2,000 for submerged land behind 61 waterfront homes in South Pasadena at a tax deed sale. Now, for $5,000, he is willing to sell it back to individual homeowners, many of whom have a dock on the submerged land.

    County officials have been searching for ways to help the homeowners. Churuti said she and other officials are pursuing several avenues.

    "We're going to be looking at what if any condemnation authority we have in the case of these properties," Churuti said.

    Several officials said they hope state legislators can help by making changes to tax deed laws.

    "I want to make sure that we give people 100 percent relief and make sure when we do that that we are within the law," Welch said.

    Geoff Apthorp, a spokesman for the South Pasadena homeowners association, said he was pleased with the response. He and others in attendance said they plan to keep pressure on the county until a solution is found.

    Many who attended said they were confident the problem would be resolved.

    "I'll sleep a whole lot easier tonight," Apthorp said.

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