INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The Indian Rocks Beach City Commission rejected the language of a referendum petition at its meeting October 11, but that did not kill the idea of development in the 2500 block of Gulf Boulevard.
A developer wants to build a Publix supermarket with parking spaces, a second floor parking garage, and condominium units on the third floor.
The site is the now empty and abandoned block between 24th and 25th Avenues on Gulf Boulevard.
A lawsuit by an Indian Rocks Beach resident, Ricardo Alvarez, is pending on the development, known as “Armstrong Village at Indian Rocks Beach.”
Alvarez’s suit says “The commission ignored the (Board of Adjustment’s) and staff’s recommendations and voted to approve the application.” The suit says that type of development “is expressly prohibited” at that site and that by granting the variance the city “issued a development order that is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.”
Then the developer came up with the language of a petition to go to referendum that the commission rejected last week.
By law, the commission could not change or adjust the language of the petition.
Mayor Bill Ockunzzi said the next day that he had presented additional language (even though referendum language is limited to 75 words and must contain only one idea) that would allow the petition to comport with the city code.
Andy Salzman, the city’s lawyer, has taken that under advisement and will present proposed language at the commission meeting next week.
While all the petition to referendum business seems muddled, it leaves the issue wide open for the citizens to decide. The developer, the city, another citizen group could all put alternate questions on the ballot. If there were several choices, a plurality vote would rule.
Even reaching that stage could not mean finality. Ockunzzi said the outcome could be challenged.
Meanwhile, the Alvarez suit is in the wings, awaiting court action.
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