It’s official: Lake Jovita leaves St. Leo

Years of conflict between some homeowners in the Lake Jovita subdivision of eastern Pasco County and the Town of St. Leo ended Monday with the stroke of the governor’s pen.

Rick Scott signed into law H.B. 1401, which officially de-annexes a portion of Lake Jovita from one of the county’s oldest municipalities.

The signing took place with no fanfare, and was in fact one of 55 bills that became law Monday.

The law was introduced by state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, designed to allow more than 80 homes in Lake Jovita join the rest of its neighborhood in unincorporated Pasco.

It goes into effect immediately, which means two commissioners in the town government who live in Lake Jovita are no longer on the commission. That includes Ray Davis, who beat longtime commissioner Donna DeWitt in the April municipal election, who will actually be removed before he officially becomes a commissioner.

The remaining commissioners will now appoint people to fill the vacancies. It’s not clear, however, if DeWitt will return.

The Tallahassee action was required because a town cannot de-annex an area that meets all the conditions that would’ve allowed the town to annex it otherwise. To make such a change, it requires both the Legislature and governor to undo it.

The new St. Leo will see see its population drop from 1,369 to 1,173, according to a House committee report. The expected financial impact of the move would decrease the town’s revenue by $50,000, or 15 percent. It also would reduce the number of rooftops by 85.

Lake Jovita is a planned 871-home development that broke ground in the late 1990s, and is located primarily in unincorporated Pasco County.

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