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Letters to the Editors

Treasure Islanders, just say 'no' to referendum


© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002

What started as an attempt to adopt a vision and provide long-term development controls for gulf-front property has turned into a fiasco. Voters in Treasure Island are about to make a major mistake.

In response to the possibility of the City Commission adopting an ordinance that they didn't want, a group of residents embarked on a petition drive to force a city vote for the adoption of their referendum.

The problem is that the referendum requires a majority of the registered voters to approve any density or land use change. Since Treasure Island historically never gets more than a 50 percent voter turnout, this makes it extremely unlikely there will ever be another change to the city land development codes. I wonder how many petition signers understood that.

This referendum could freeze the codes that are in place, and that is exactly why the City Commission was forced into the awkward position of having to vote new controversial regulations in place prior to the potential passing of the proposed referendum.

Referendum supporters claim "big business" and "special interests" were behind the commission's action. I take great exception to this. It is clear that commissioners were forced to act before they and all future commissions were virtually handcuffed from making any more changes to the code. Is the adopted ordinance the best thing for the city? I don't know. But the referendum's threat took the debate out of the normal or desired forum and forced immediate action.

For the record, I am a longtime resident who has no business in the city and has no close friends who do. I have no connection with any of the special interest groups being held responsible by amendment supporters for the commission's action. The voters would be doing the right thing by voting NO on Nov. 5.
-- Fred Hemmer, Isle of Capri

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