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City prepares for another growth spurt

Just one annexation case city officials will consider today would add 46 acres, land valued at $15.3-million.

By ADRIENNE P. SAMUELS

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 20, 2002


Just one annexation case city officials will consider today would add 46 acres, land valued at $15.3-million.

LARGO -- By year's end, the city's boundaries would be miles longer and encompass hundreds more acres.

Largo officials estimate that they annex an average of 100 acres a year into the city. Since last October, the city has added 140 acres, piece by piece.

Each move is a win-win situation, city officials say, bringing more residents, businesses and tax money into the city.

Officials today will discuss adding more than 50 acres to the city in its newest string of anticipated annexations, the largest of which is a 46-acre property on the southern end of the city. The land is valued at $15.3-million.

Other, smaller annexations include small businesses, industrial areas and single-family homes.

If approved by the City Commission, the 46-acre site, located north of 126th Avenue and east of Starkey Road, would be placed on a January referendum to be voted on by local residents and businesses. The area is home to the Wren's Way housing development.

"They're all entirely within the Largo planning area," said Louis Hilton, the city's annexation program planner. "I have annexation agreements with most of them; they're (already) getting many of the city services at in-city rates. . . . Once they become contiguous, they agree to come into the city. They'll save money on taxes."

Provided the commission approves the referendum question, the people who live in the 57 households at Wren's Way will vote on Jan. 21, 2003, to decide whether or not they should be an official part of Largo.

The city is expanding its border toward Tampa Bay by facilitating an annexation on a 2.84-acre area at 2862 Roosevelt Blvd. Arts and craft warehouse Enterprise Arts has agreed to become a part of the city in exchange for monetary help with removing its septic tanks and replacing them with city sewer lines.

The deal has been in the works since 2001, according to city documents.

Enterprise Arts will get a check for $12,700 from the city to help facilitate the sewer replacement and annexation. In turn, the city will collect taxes on the land, which is valued at $811,000.

Offering incentives has become part of the city's annexation strategy, said City Manager Steven Stanton. "We're cutting checks," he said. "Over time, we're going to get a net positive impact when the city's municipal boundaries are more logical."

With annexation, the city becomes responsible for providing public services to new residents. Services range from parks to police protection to trash pickup. It is the city's opinion that many city services already are being used by nonresidents who live in unincorporated pockets of land within or near Largo boundaries.

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