Pinellas delegation bars Oldsmar from annexing parts of East Lake listen01/13/11 Kate Bradshaw
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Two years ago, voters shot down a referendum that would have brought parts of Pinellas Countyâ€™s unincorporated East Lake area into Oldsmar. Last week the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation gave their blessing to a bill barring any Pinellas city from annexing parts of East Lake unless itâ€™s what property owners want. The bill was softened, but Oldsmar leaders are still not happy.
State Senator Mike Fasano and Representative Mike Nehr sponsored the bill. If passed by the Legislature, it will prevent any Pinellas municipality from annexing East Lake, unless such an annexation is voluntary or includes the entire area. Critics had said the city was trying to â€œcherry pickâ€ the spots with the highest land values. Representative Nehr said he thought a new bill would satisfy everyone involved.
"The bill the way it is written now, the voluntary language in the bill addresses all concerns, gives everybody the opportunity, protects the citizens of East Lake from involuntary annexation, allows both the city of Tarpon Springs and Oldsmar to have voluntary annexation. I don't see what the problem is."
Friday the delegation approved the new bill with an amendment including a sunset provision after ten years. Plus, it allows East Lake neighborhoods to join either Oldsmar or Tarpon Springs on a voluntary basis. But Oldsmar isnâ€™t happy. Oldsmar City Council member Janis Miller said the legislation singles out the northeast Pinellas town, which stood to benefit from services and tax revenue the annexation would have brought.
"In this economic times? The county is tight with money? You know they can't provide this or that? They may want to come into the city because we can provide."
Citics say the city wanted to annex only the sections of East Lake with the highest tax value.