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St. Pete Beach wins legal challenge

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  • | 3:05 p.m. March 31, 2010
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A St. Pete Beach citizen's challenge to a comprehensive plan amendment approved by the city's voters has been turned down by a state appeals court. The suit alleged the city did not comply with state requirements for processing plan amendments.

Dr. William Pyle, represented by Tallahassee attorney Ross Burnaman, challenged a previous administrative order.

Burnaman made several technical challenges but focused on his claim that St. Pete Beach failed to follow amendment procedures required by state growth management laws. In its May 2009 recommended order, a judge found those claims had no merit.

The department of community affairs accepted and adopted that recommended order as its final order finding that all procedures were properly followed and all of Burnaman's substantive challenges had no merit.

The Pinellas County beach community has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending a plan amendment to its future land use and housing plans approved by voters in 2008. Citizens are required to vote on such amendments as a result of a controversial charter change approved in 2006.

The city still faces several pending circuit court challenges tied to the validity of a settlement agreement and wording of the ballot summary.

Burnaman also fought for the St. Pete Beach charter change requiring citizens to vote on plan amendments back in 2006. He has also been one of the two lead proponents of Amendment 4, the so-called “Vote on Everything” or “Hometown Democracy” amendment to the state constitution.

Amendment 4 would require citizens to vote to approve all local comprehensive plan amendments. Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 2 to decide whether to expand St. Pete Beach's version of growth management statewide.


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