St. Pete annexes part of Tierra Verde

11/21/08 Seán Kinane
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The City of St. Petersburg has agreed to annex part of Tierra Verde despite opposition from many residents who live nearby. The change in the properties’ jurisdiction from unincorporated Pinellas County may allow developers to build 8-story condominiums.

Before the City Council’s vote, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said that he favored annexation of the two properties totaling 18 acres plus 10 acres of underwater state land.

“I am recommending support of this annexation and I’ll give you my reasons why. First, it’s been the long-range policy of our city to seek annexation, seek annexation of properties that are contiguous to our borders. Especially in the case when they are voluntary annexations and people come to us seeking annexation, which is the case here. … The rational for it is, first it obviously increases the tax base of the city. Which, when you increase the tax base of the city, then it spreads the tax burden and it allows you to not have to charge as much taxes to your residents.”

David Goodwin is St. Petersburg’s Economic Development Director. He said that the amount of revenue the city would receive from taxes on the properties would depend on whether they stay the same or get redeveloped under the city’s more favorable regulations.

The estimated annual ad velorum revenues are $169,306 and the annual non-ad velorum revenues – utility taxes, franchise fees – approximately $30,612, but just a little bit under $200,000 in total annual revenue based on what is built out there today. … City tax receipts could increase to as much as $800,000 to $1 million if the property is redeveloped under the proposed rezoning.”

The two properties are west of the Pinellas Bayway South. One will be developed by Tierra Verde Marine and is north of Madonna Boulevard. The other, south of Madonna, will be developed by A&S Tierra Verde Ventures. The largest building is a five-story boat storage facility. Buildings as tall as 15 stories could be constructed there under St. Petersburg’s rules. But the two development groups have agreed to limit construction to 8 stories, provided the annexation is not appealed, Goodwin said.

City Council member Bill Dudley, who was one of the five who voted for annexation, criticized the type of development that occurred on these properties while they were under the jurisdiction of Pinellas.

In order to annex the rest of Tierra Verde, the question would have to go to a referendum so that residents could vote on the matter. That is eventually the city’s plan, Goodwin said, though no timetable is in place.

Matt Gasper, Treasurer of the Tierra Verde Neighborhood Association, would not say what his group’s next step would be when reacting to the City Council’s decision to annex.

“Eight story buildings don’t go along with single-family, single-story homes.”

Jeff Danner made the motion to approve the ordinance moments before he was one of only two members of City Council to vote against it. The other was Herb Polson. Jim Kennedy was absent.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

City of St. Petersburg Economic Development Department

St. Pete City Council

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