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Resident joins effort to dismiss SOLV suit

The political group Save Our Little Village wants six pro-development items put on March 11 ballots.

By NICK JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008


ST. PETE BEACH - Another party joined the fray concerning the six pro-development petition items brought by the Save Our Little Village Inc. political group.

St. Pete Beach resident William Pyle was granted a motion to intervene by Circuit Judge David A. Demers on Tuesday and will join the city in an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by SOLV that seeks an election for the petition items.

"We're pleased with the outcome and intend to be there at the hearing to argue our position," Anthony Battaglia, one of the attorneys representing Pyle said.

The approved motion stated that Pyle resides in an area that would be adversely affected by the petition items, which include a comprehensive plan that would attempt to bolster development by allowing hoteliers to build taller and denser accommodations on the beach.

Pyle has been a vocal opponent of increased height and density and is the primary contributor to the political group Citizens For Responsible Growth, which thinks that businesses can redevelop under the current conditions.

The SOLV lawsuit came after the City Commission failed to put the petition items on the January ballots and resulted in Demers ordering the city to hold an election by Feb. 17 in order to comply with the city charter.

The city's interim attorney, Thomas W. Reese, responded with two motions seeking to quash the order and dismiss SOLV's case, arguing that state law prevents approval of a comprehensive plan by a referendum vote only. A similar argument was also presented by the law firm representing Pyle.

"Dr. Pyle is representative of the 20 percent of the city who are in the area that would be affected by the petition items and it's in the court's best interest to hear that viewpoint," Reese said.

SOLV is expecting a ruling on its suit this week in hopes that the petition items can be added to the March 11 ballots, according to one of the attorneys representing the group, Gregg D. Thomas.

"We're disappointed because we don't think Mr. Pyle is representative of all the citizens of St. Pete Beach, but the ruling means that all positions are going to be represented and we will get a complete and final ruling by the judge," Thomas said.

The hearing has been rescheduled for Thursday at 8 a.m.

Nick Johnson can be reached at nickjohnson@sptimes.com or 893-8361.