St. Petersburg voters approved two charter amendments and a referendum Tuesday night.
The first charter amendment allows the city to accept grants from government agencies that include a stipulation that the property be restricted to preservation of conservation uses without having to get voter approval first, which is currently required.
The second charter amendment changes the date Mayors and members of City Council take office after they’re elected.
The referendum allows a long-term operating agreement between the city and the St. Petersburg Sailing Center.
None of the measures were controversial.
Charter Amendment No. 1 landed on the ballot after the city faced a conflict in its existing charter over a $900,000 preservation grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District that hinged on the city’s agreement to provide a conservation easement and that the money, earmarked for Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, be used permanently for conservation efforts.
The city’s current charter blocks the city from selling, donating or leasing waterfront or park property. But exemptions already exist for things like utility easements or restricted recreational or airport uses. The charter simply provides another exception.
The charter passed with 78 percent of the vote.
Charter Amendment No. 2 provides efficiency to the process by which elected City Council members or Mayors take office. Under the current charter elected officials take office on Jan. 2 regardless of which day of the week that falls on. Under the new charter, those officials would take office on either the first or second Thursday of January when City Council is already scheduled to meet.
Eighty-four percent of voters approved that charter amendment.
The referendum provides a 20-year lease agreement between the city and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s St. Petersburg Sailing Center that would run through 2040.
Under that agreement, the yacht club will pay the city at least $800,000 for upgrades to its sailing facility. The referendum is necessary because the city charter requires voter approval over any leases on city-owned waterfront or park property that is commercially zoned.
The sailing center wanted a longer-term lease to protect its investment in the facility.
Voters approved that referendum with 84 percent of the vote.
“We thank all the citizens who took the time to insure that the children and adults in St. Petersburg have a place where they can take part in sailing which is rich in our city’s history,” said Mario Farias, a consultant who worked to pass the Sailing Center referendum.