Holmes Proposal Asks Meeting Of City, County Electeds On Annexations
By Leo Coughlin
Largo - A bold proposal by Commissioner Curtis Holmes, that got the apparent green light from all sides, would bring together the elected officials of Largo and the county in a meeting to resolve voluntary annexations.
Holmes' striking proposal, in the spirit of his theme of "thinking outside the box", came at last week's County Commission meeting when he proposed to those commissioners that a meeting of the electeds be held.
County Administrator Bob LaSala seemed to back Holmes' proposal, and no dissenting voices were heard from commission members in the afternoon meeting on January 19th.
Later that evening, at the Largo City Commission meeting, Holmes informed his colleagues of the proposal he made to the county board. He got full endorsement from City Manager Mac Craig and Alan Zimmet, the city's lawyer. "This would be a good thing to do", Craig said. "We can gain something without any border wars. If we can fill in enclaves that will be a winner".
Only Commissioner Harriet Crozier appeared to muddy the waters in Holmes' proposal, although she professed to have "no problem" with the idea. She indicated that the county staff has "an agenda" in regard to the issue.
When a map of Largo is viewed, it looks something like Swiss cheese because there are small areas with the city's general boundaries that are county territory. Holmes said at the Largo meeting last week that, in a discussion with Craig, he asked how many of such enclaves already had a voluntary response to be annexed into Largo by property owners. "Mac told me there were three hundred", Holmes said. "Then he called me back later and said there were seven hundred".
Holmes said his idea was to cut to the chase and get the elected officials of both jurisdictions at the table to hash out an agreement and cut short the 18 months of negotiations that have been going on about the subject.
One of the sticking points is a state law that mandates that an enclave proposed for annexation must be "contiguous" to city land. This can be overcome if it presents a problem, Holmes said, because the county can, by law, waive that requirement. "We don't want a war", Holmes emphasized when he talked to the County Commission. "We electeds jobs are to provide service to the people and we should do exactly that. Leave the staff out. The quality of some of the memorandums from the staff are of dubious quality".
He told county commissioners that Largo officials were fully aware of his plan to propose a meeting to the county electeds. When asked by LaSala if he officially represented the view of the Largo City Commission, Holmes said that he did not, but that his colleagues were aware of the idea he was proposing.
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