The Litigation Season: Beaches Sued, Suing

Article excerpt

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

records show.

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

July.

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. …

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