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Annexation clash jeopardizes sewer pact

When the county challenges Largo's bid for land near Bay Vista Office Park, the city reacts by denying new service.

By SHANNON TAN
Published October 2, 2005


LARGO - In yet another turf battle between Pinellas County and Largo, county officials have filed a challenge to the city's annexation of more than 100 acres near 58th Street and Roosevelt Boulevard.

The people who might end up on the losing end: residents who need sewer service.

Largo contends that the county is violating an interlocal agreement signed in 2000 by the county, the city and Pinellas Park. The deal says that as long as the county doesn't challenge Largo's annexations, the city will not deny sewer service to property owners in unincorporated areas who don't want to be annexed.

So until the disagreement is resolved, Largo officials say they won't approve sewer connections for these property owners.

And what if your connection was approved, but you haven't actually hooked up to Largo's sewer service yet?

Forget about it.

"We were hoping we wouldn't get down to this," said City Manager Steven Stanton.

A dispute resolution meeting between county and city officials is scheduled Oct. 10. Stanton said he doesn't expect any property owners to be affected between now and then.

The border brouhaha started when Largo annexed the area, which includes Bay Vista Office Park.

A representative from Bay Vista voiced his support for the move, but the county says the city created an illegal pocket by not annexing three residential properties originally in the proposed annexation area. The county also thinks the city should have annexed streets adjacent to Bay Vista, says senior assistant county attorney Dave Sadowsky.

"If you're going to annex property on both sides of the street," Sadowsky said, "you should annex the street."

Pinellas County filed a legal challenge to the annexation Sept. 15. Largo, however, argues that annexing the streets would have created an illegal enclave.

Pinellas Planning Council executive director Dave Healey suggests that the city and the county enter into an interlocal agreement to decide who will patrol and maintain the roads.

But Stanton says he believes the issue has nothing to do with Bay Vista or the roads.

He says it's about the county's concern over the city's aggressive annexation into the High Point area. As Largo and Pinellas Park annex more residents from unincorporated areas, county officials have said they intend to reduce the amount the county pays the two cities for fire service in the High Point area.

That's off-base, Sadowsky says.

"We're not challenging the High Point Fire District at all," Sadowsky said.

--Shannon Tan can be reached at shtan@sptimes.com or 445-4174.

[Last modified October 2, 2005, 01:57:16]


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