ST. LEO — Town commissioners agreed to put the brakes on a controversial annexation after County Administrator Michele Baker made a surprise visit to last week’s board meeting.
Baker said she attended the meeting Wednesday night in an effort to repair the frayed relationship between the county and town over St. Leo’s proposed annexation of 179 acres at the intersection of State Road 52 and Prospect Road. At the same time the town is looking for a legal way to de-annex residents from the Lake Jovita subdivision.
“I wanted to reach out and open up better lines of communication,” Baker said. “I’m committed to improving our relationships with our cities.”
Town commissioners voted in October to begin negotiations with the Iafrates family, who applied for the voluntary annexation into the city. County officials have said the town lacks the expertise to oversee development of such a large parcel — a position that offended several town officials — and offered the county’s assistance in reviewing the potential annexation agreement.
Baker said she apologized for the role her administration played in the recent spat. “As things are heating up, I didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings,” she said. “That’s just the kind of girl I am.”
Town commissioners agreed to her suggestion that they delay any final action on the Iafrates annexation until the Lake Jovita issue is resolved. Three of St. Leo’s five commissioners reside in Lake Jovita, and if the neighborhood is removed from the town, they would have to relinquish their seats.