Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Developer Cites New State Law in Condo Fight; Jacksonville Beach Revoked Las Olas' Building Permit This Year, Leading to Lawsuits

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Developer Cites New State Law in Condo Fight; Jacksonville Beach Revoked Las Olas' Building Permit This Year, Leading to Lawsuits

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - A developer whose building permit for a six-story condo was terminated because of a lack of construction work has asked the city to reinstate it under a new state law meant to stimulate development and protect unfinished projects.

City officials revoked Las Olas Development's building permit at 1316 First St. N. in January because it hadn't made substantial progress on the project.

Las Olas got the building permit in 2004, several weeks before voters approved a 35-foot building height cap to rein in the trend of tall oceanfront condos. It kept the permit alive by getting inspections twice a year on minimal amounts of construction work.

When the permit was terminated, Las Olas sued the city, charging it has made a significant investment in the site and has vested rights to build the condo.

If a judge determines that Las Olas has a vested right in the property, it can build the condo as originally planned.

Las Olas took its claim against the city one step further by filing another suit seeking damages under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act, which may compensate a property owner when a government regulation limits the land's use.

Now, the developer's attorney, Tim Franklin of Neptune Beach, is adding a new strategy.

In an Oct. 12 letter, Franklin asked the city to reinstate the building permit under a new law known as Senate Bill 360. That law provides a two-year extension of local building permits and development orders for projects that haven't gotten off the ground because of real estate market conditions. The bill is retroactive to 2008.

"It is clear the bill is meant to have retroactive application to breathe life into and require reinstatement of permits which expired prior to the effective date," Franklin's letter said. "It is very clear that my client is entitled to an immediate reinstatement and extension of its building permit."

Assistant City Attorney Susan Erdelyi said she was drafting a response and couldn't comment because she hadn't yet sent it to city officials and Franklin. …

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