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Annexation -- Pinellas Countywide Referendum

This amendment would change the way cities can annex unincorporated properties to reduce the chance of disputes.

By EDIE GROSS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Do not attempt to read this ballot question at high speed or you'll risk hurting yourself tripping over the legalese.

In a nutshell, the charter amendment gives the county permission to step in and referee annexation squabbles among cities. The county, under the direction of the Pinellas Planning Council, has drawn a series of imaginary lines around Pinellas' 24 cities.

If this ballot question is approved, a city could pursue voluntary annexations on its side of the line, meaning if a property owner wanted to come into the city, the city could take it without risking an argument with another town that might have also been eyeing that land. The county can oppose the annexation if it thinks the city cannot adequately serve the new area, but the county cannot prevent the annexation without a legal challenge.

Cities could not cross over the line into someone else's annexation territory without persuading the County Commission to move the line.

The idea is to keep cities from fighting over who gets to annex which unincorporated properties, a debate that has landed three cities in court during the past year.

The charter amendment does not force residents living in the unincorporated areas of Pinellas to annex into a nearby city and does not give cities wholesale approval to move forward with annexation. Each piece of property is to be considered on an individual basis and only when the property owner asks to be annexed.

This ballot question does not address the issue of involuntary annexation, which occurs when a city annexes land after a referendum by the public. Some residents oppose this method because a large area can be annexed even if 49 percent of the residents vote against it. State law currently forbids the county to interfere with this process.

ON THE BALLOT

County voters will vote yes or no on this referendum:

Authorizes the county to establish exclusive methods, criteria and geographic boundaries for voluntary municipal annexation

Shall Article II, Sections 2.04 and 2.07, of the Pinellas County Charter be amended to provide the County with the authority to adopt by ordinance the exclusive methods and criteria for voluntary municipal annexation within Pinellas County, including the delineation of the geographic areas eligible for annexation to a municipality with such County ordinance prevailing in the event of a conflict with a municipal ordinance?

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