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Date of Issue: February 27, 2008

City ordered to show cause in Gee lawsuit

Anna Maria resident Laura Gee of South Bay Boulevard appears to have taken the first round in her legal action against the Anna Maria City Commission for approving multiple variances for her neighbor on South Bay Boulevard, Terry Olesen.

Circuit Judge Paul Logan on Feb. 15 said that upon further review of Gee's petition, he found Gee has "demonstrated a preliminary basis for relief." He added that he found it "appropriate" to direct the city to "show cause" as to "why relief should not be granted." Logan gave the city until March 6 to respond.

Gee had filed a legal action against the commission after it granted a number of variances to Olesen to allow him to complete a renovation project on his house. Gee is Olesen’s neighbor on the north side of his property.

The variances were the result of another legal proceedings that resulted in a court-ordered mediation settlement between Olesen and the city over ownership of a 10-foot easement on the north side of the Olesen property, between his property and Gee’s.

The Olesen family sued the city in late 2006 after negotiations with the city to resolve the ownership issue were unsuccessful. The suit came several months after then-building official Kevin Donovan issued a stop-work order for the renovation project because he believed the project was encroaching on city property.

The Olesens countered the city’s claim with a number of letters from then-city officials in the early 1980s indicating the city believed the Olesens owned the easement. However, no record of any official vacation of the easement by the city to the Olesens was discovered.