STUART — City commissioners have lost
much of the power they had to sell or lease city waterfront
Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly agreed
to amend the city charter, requiring commissioners to seek
voters' approval before selling or leasing any city
waterfront land for 10 years or more.
"This is just a confirmation that the
people do not like the idea of the city commission selling
our public waterfront property without asking the people's
permission," said Mac Stuckey, the attorney who
drafted the petition to have the amendment put on the
The charter amendment applies only to a
handful of properties: city hall, which fronts the St. Lucie
River, and a few city parks.
The former Rayz restaurant site near
the Roosevelt Bridge and 1.5 acres on the north side of the
river, both owned by the city and slated to become boat
storage and marinas, aren't affected because the leases
already have been finalized, City Attorney Paul Nicoletti
Stuckey said city commissioners can
avoid the hassle of a referendum by simply writing five-year
leases, something he said is common practice in downtown
Stuart. If commissioners insist on a longer lease and the
proposed project is a good idea, they won't have trouble
selling it to the voters, he said.
Stuckey started collecting signatures
for a vote to amend the charter early this year, shortly
after the commission agreed to hear a pitch by Palm Beach
Gardens builder Dan Catalfumo to tear down city hall and a
restaurant next door to build a condo-hotel on city land he
would lease for 99 years.
Commissioners agreed to consider the
plan, and others, until more than 150 people filled city
hall in January to blast the idea.