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Date of Issue: December 26, 2007

Neighbor vs. neighbor in Olesen variance

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Offending work
Laura Gee of 502 S. Bay Blvd. in Anna Maria has filed a legal action against the Anna Maria City Commission over its approval of variances for 504 S. Bay Blvd., pictured above with improvements under way. Gee's residence is at the left. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Not content with making vocal objections to the Anna Maria City Commission’s approval of four variances for property owned by Terry and Patricia Olesen and family at 504 S. Bay Blvd., neighbor Laura Gee of 502 S. Bay Blvd. has filed a legal action.

She filed the complaint with the Manatee County Circuit Court seeking a judicial review of the city’s decisions.

Gee, represented by attorney Ricinda Perry of the Bradenton law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker, noted in her action that the commission’s approval of a 5-foot, 4-inch variance from the 10-foot setback on the north side of the Olesen property was at odds with the city’s own planning and zoning board. The P&Z had recommended denial of that variance, but had voted to recommend the other three variances that the commission ultimately granted.

The variance requests were the result of a mediated settlement between the Olesens and the city that began with disputed ownership of a 10-foot easement on the north side of the property. The city claimed the easement had never been dedicated to the Olesens.

The Olesens, however, claimed they owned the easement. The Olesens filed their own legal action against the city after then-building official Kevin Donohue in April 2006 issued a stop-work order because the construction was encroaching into the easement.

Perry alleged in her petition to the court that, based upon her review, the granting of the variances “departed from the essential requirements of law by misapplying the city’s code of ordinances.”

In addition, said Perry, the decision to grant the variances “was devoid of any competent substantial evidence.”

In her 20-page submission to the court, Perry further claimed that the city also did not provide “any evidence that there was anything unusual about the Olesens’ property that prevented the use of the property.”

Perry called upon the court to grant Gee “temporary injunctive relief against the Olesens and/or their agents from any further development activities by the Olesens,” in addition to any other relief “as the court may deem just and proper and warranted under the circumstances.”

Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford said that the city’s defense will be handled by city attorney Jim Dye, not the Florida League of Cities, as there is no request for money in the action.

Perry is also the city attorney for Bradenton Beach.