NORTH PORT — The movement to redraw North Port’s boundaries has a new twist.
The homeowner group behind that push has filed a mandamus with the county’s 12th Circuit Court. The court packet thick in opinions and testimony filed on Friday essentially demands that North Port place contraction or de-annexation of all land west of the Myakka River before affected voters — in this matter property, owners in Wellen Park.
The mandamus follows an April 29 North Port commission vote to reject de-annexation. That homeowners group, West Villagers for Responsible Goverment, had argued that North Port mismanages its finances, that shifting Wellen Park to Sarasota County would solve those alleged problems, as well as saving on property taxes.
The movement had gained support with time. Wellen Park builders had filed lawsuits to halt the momentum. The West Villagers triumphed in two court decisions. The builders withdrew that legal action with the commission’s rejection, however.
The bottom line of the mandamus or any future court action is getting the de-annexation decision before Wellen Park’s voters, said John Meisel, president of West Villagers for Responsible Government.
The group, he said, has rights under Florida rules to have annexation or de-annexation placed before affected voters. Included in that manadamus packet is a 2004 supportive opinion by then-Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, he added.
North Port counter-argued that the commission’s April 29 rejection of de-annexation effectively closed the door on that movement.
“The city is so wrong on this,” Meisel added, “it’s incredible.”
North Port in its de-annexation decision followed a flowchart of steps laid out in Florida statutes, said Mayor Jill Luke. The West Villagers in October filed contraction petitions, North Port furnished a feasibility study on separation costs, a hearing was conducted, all sides presented themselves, the public spoke — and the commission rejected the proposal, she said.
That the West Villagers group would push beyond the finality of April 29 “makes no logical sense … to me,” she added.