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Date of Issue: November 25, 2009

PAR fires letter aimed at Stoltzfus

A request from Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus to review parking arrangements for a retail-office-residential complex at 315 and 317 Pine Avenue has not gone unnoticed by Pine Avenue Restoration, owners of the complex.

click on image to see entire letter

Click on the image above to view the entire document.

Attorney Richard Rumrell of Jacksonville, representing PAR, wrote to city attorney Jim Dye indicating that any attempt to take away something already approved for PAR might be taking away of vested rights.

In his Nov. 19 letter to Dye, Rumrell said Stoltzfus’ request was “a not so subtle attack on the already approved site plan of 315/317 Pine Avenue and future development.”

Stoltzfus had said that vehicles backing out of the complex — called Cozy Corner by PAR — was a safety hazard because motorists must back across a sidewalk to enter the street.

Rumrell noted that there are currently more than 2,000 parking spaces in Anna Maria that “back out onto the street, across a right of way. Singling out 315/317 can only be interpreted as targeting on an unequal basis.”

Further, Rumrell claimed that once a property owner obtains “vested rights,” any change that results “in a taking” is protected by the Florida and U.S. constitutions.

Stoltzfus may have questions that were already answered during the approval process, but bringing them up again is “tantamount to reconsidering already granted vested rights,” said the PAR attorney.

Rumrell cited a case involving the City of Venice, in which the city used its “governmental power to target a specific property owner.” Any use of governmental power subjects Anna Maria to “damages for violation of the equal protection laws and the 14th Amendment rights of property owners.”

Rumrell added that he was confident the city did not want to “cause substantial damage to its citizens and taxpayers,” even though the Stoltzfus letter “seems contrary to that.”

He also cited the principle of equitable estoppel, noting that Tony Arrant had warned the commission about this in January, 2003 when it began the process of re-writing the comp plan.

In conclusion, Rumrell advised that any action by the city to adopt “any of the arguments by Mr. Stoltzfus would be arbitrary and capricious and subject the city to further damages for such action.”

He called Dye’s attention to the 2004 approval of an ROR development on Pine Avenue that was based on confirmation by both the city building official and the city attorney that the site plan and its associated parking design “was found to be in conformance with the comprehensive plan and applicable ordinances.”

The approved site plan and parking in 2004 was for a project at 303 Pine Ave. owned by Robert and Nicki Hunt.

Commissioners at their Nov. 19 meeting discussed parking on Pine Avenue and Dye advised them of the Rumrell letter. The commission directed Stoltzfus to form a safety committee to examine the parking problem.

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