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Pier Petitioners Vs. City Hearing Set

The petitioner’s lawsuit against the city and City Council will be held Dec. 5 from 10:15 - 11:30 a.m. at the courthouse in downtown St. Petersburg.

In early December, the city has a scheduled court hearing regarding council's vote not to proceed with a public referendum on the future of the St. Petersburg Pier. 

According to Tom Lambdon, chairman of VoteOnThePier.com, this suit falls squarely on the back of city council who voted against the referendum in August.

On Aug. 22, local attorney and former mayor candidate Kathleen Ford filed suit against city and council for taking that action. According to county court documents, the city asked for a dismissal.

The first hearing on the suit is set for Dec. 5 from 10:15 - 11:30 a.m. at the downtown St. Petersburg courthouse.  

Lambdon released a statement Thursday regarding the Dec. 5 hearing. 

"We are hopeful that the Pinellas County Judge, Amy Williams, who has been assigned to hear and decide our case – will agree that our petitions are in fact legal – and have been individually counted and certified by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections – and that the city must provide for a special election for the voters of the city to finally be able to decide the fate of their Pier – either way.

We as a formally legally registered Political Committee together with our 15,652 certified petitioners have played by the rules, paid the fees and met the burden as required under the Florida Constitution to demand that city voter be heard by referendum on this very important issue."

VoteOnthePier and Lambdon submitted their petitions and hit their goal just weeks after the deadline passed set by Mayor Bill Foster for the petition drive. The group said it was legally allowed two years to complete the petition, which would is this month. 

The city and city attorney John Wolfe have argued the petition drive is not legally binding to force the city to act because the city's charter does not require them to act. According to the charter, if a petition drive receives enough valid signatures about a city ordinance then it will require the city to hold a referendum. However, according to the city, the pier was a capital project that required no new laws. 

In September, the city voted to move forward with Michael Maltzan Architecture's plan, called the Lens, to replace the existing inverted pyramid. 

Foster said the process will continue until a judge tells them to stop. 

"This is coming along and move forward is what we will do," Foster said at the September council meeting. "I assure you that my staff is prepared to move forward with permitting, demolition and construction until somebody tells us to stop."

The pier is slated for closure on May 31, 2013 with demolition set for the fall of 2013. 

"The longest and hardest portion is behind us – in obtaining the 15,652 certified (petition)," Lambdon said in a statement. "Now we must support Kathleen Ford as she takes on the cit in the very high profile and important fight to the end. 

"The pier and democracy, together with everything, we all worked very hard for over the past two years is on the line," Lambdon concluded.  

Ford's suit against the city about the pier is the first to go to court, but it may not be the last. In October a second group,

"We're here (today) to launch the petitions of our campaign to stop the 'Lens' because we think St. Petersburg can do better," said Fred Whaley, chairman of the Board of Concerned Citizens on Oct. 4. "The council must pass the ordinance or the must place it on the ballot for a vote of the citizens of St. Petersburg." 

The group said its petition follows the letter of the charter and even requires petitions to be signed in person so that a petitioner can verify the petition.

Concerned Floridian November 09, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I truly hope so, the will of the people should mean something somehow. Especially for those who have been elected to run this city. Unless they collectively have lost their compass along the road.... All this said, any developments on this affair will be quite interesting to monitor.
N.A.W. November 09, 2012 at 07:00 PM
You can thank the city for whatever perception you have of the pier. Everyone knows the approach, decking, and road around the pier need to be replaced, that's what the TIF funding was for...until this council changed that without a vote from the people. Hopefully the judge will see the wisdom of listening to over 20k tax paying voters.
Bob Doyle SR November 09, 2012 at 07:21 PM
The Pier was the site in the 1940-50s era of a television station. Who else remembers and participated in Captain Mac's Jungle Hour ? Yes, the old pilings and the new & newer pilings are still installed on/in the bay bottom. The clarity of the Bay water is still too abundent with life & sediment to ever acquire a clarity making an underwater garden viewing installation useless. The 'Pieramid" is unique, the approachway minus bus & large trucks is good for electric transport (lightweight), pedestrian & biketype transport. The VOTE to approve or deny the experimental "California Style" replacment requires massive funding in a city too poor to keep up with the metro police needs, yet wants the entire county,state, & city populace to accept the lowball figure of "only" fifty million from St. Pete, the bulk of the $300 million project coming from outside sourceing of tax dollars. Have a Countywide VOTE before proceeding, avoid more loss on a Goofy idea.Goofy resides in Orlando, not Pinellas.
Rider November 10, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It is possible that the approach to the "Pieramid" (love it!!!) could be shortened by using the debris from the implosion of the present pier approach. There are plans right now, in the RFP, for this debris to be located and stored at the airport, to be used to fight erosion of that peninsula. Why not use the debris to build out the lands' end of this pier and shorten the approach as a result? Landfill has been used for centuries, in fact, Battery Park City in lower Manhattan is built on the debris from the excavation of the World Trade Center. There are many high rises in Battery Park City, too.
Red November 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Wow!! Yet another chance to ignore the overwhelming opposition to the "lens". Remember the old re-frame 'how can we get this thing to earn money' ? Well friends those days of lament are getting closer. Ain't it great to hear the old songs like " Well its somebody else s problem now" or the past hit" Maybe the city should subsidize"? My personal favorite "Lets renovate",yes friends, Now we can have a chance to put ALL that extra money the city is burdened with to good old traditional use. Maybe some brown pigment mixed in the concrete, kinda' like eye shadow, will bring out the water color beneath "DA LENS"? I know you can hardly wait.

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