The Litigation Season: Beaches Sued, Suing
Magee, Keri, The Florida Times Union
JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- The city's effort to purchase land for a
new subdivision, from owners unwilling to sell, was set back at
least another week Tuesday.
Planning and Development Director Steve Lindorff said about
half a court hearing took place Tuesday, but the city has two
more witnesses it wants to have testify before the landowners
present their case. The hearing is to decide whether the city
has the right to condemn the land and buy it from owners for
what a judge determines is a fair price.
The city sued six owners of property near Osceola and South
Beach Parkway that it wants to acquire and resell to a
developer, who plans to build a 198-home subdivision called
Ocean Cay. One of the owners has since agreed to sell.
The city has contracts to buy more than 50 percent of the land
for the 52-acre subdivision, Mayor Bill Latham said recently.
City officials said the land cannot be developed as it is,
because it has no utilities or paved roads. State law allows
local governments to condemn tracts held by many different
owners, in order to develop it. Lindorff hopes the hearing can
be finished next week.
The Ocean Cay legal battle is one of several lawsuits involving
the Beaches. Here is a look at other lawsuits involving the city
governments or officials at the Beaches. Jacksonville Beach
Oceanfront resident Jack Kieser sued the city in October, and
won a temporary injunction to prohibit Jacksonville Beach from
fining him for buildingcode violations, or forcing him to remove
additions to his home.
Kieser is seeking more than $15,000 in damages for the loss of
the use of his property and its improvements, and the costs to
meet the city's requests for information and documents, court
Kieser started building a third story onto his home, in the
2900 block of Ocean Drive, but stopped in March after the city
issued a stop work order because the construction didn't match
the plans approved by city building officials. After the city
ordered Kieser to remove all additions for which he had no
permit, he filed the lawsuit.
David Smith sued Jacksonville Beach in October, seeking
invalidation of the city's approval of an ordinance that sets
forth the city's development agreement with The Haskell Co. and
Sleiman Enterprises. The City Council approved the ordinance in
The development agreement calls for The Haskell Co. to design a
city hall, police building and outdoor plaza and Sleiman
Enterprises to buy and develop, or sell, four other downtown
parcels. Smith's suit, filed in Circuit Court, said the
agreement is inconsistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan and
the state's coastal control zone guidelines. He has not
requested a jury trial. …