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Date of Issue: March 31, 2010

Nally’s sue city over site-plan approval

William and Barbara Nally of Spring Avenue filed a lawsuit March 22 against the city, claiming the approval of a site plan for 216 Pine Ave. is inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and land-development regulations.

The site plan was approved by the planning and zoning board Feb. 23 in a controversial 4-3 vote.

Sarasota attorney Dan Lobeck of the Law Offices of Lobeck & Hanson, P.A., representing the Nallys, called upon the court to take jurisdiction in the case, enter a final judgment declaring that the city’s comprehensive plan governed the site plan at the time the project was approved, and that the site plan is inconsistent with the comp plan.

He called upon the court to vacate and reverse the decision and enter a judgment “permanently enjoining the respondents from approving development orders for the project and the (retail-office-residential) district that permit uses or densities that are inconsistent with the Anna Maria Comprehensive Plan.”

Lobeck also asked for other relief as the court may deem appropriate, including “an award to the petitioners of all the costs and expenses” they incur in connection with the action.

The claim was expected.

Privately held e-mails produced by Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus as the result of a public records request last week between attorney Jeremy Anderson of Lobeck & Hanson indicate Anderson had a client considering such a lawsuit. Stoltzfus indicated to Anderson he supported such a lawsuit and wanted to be silently involved in the action, if possible.

But Anderson wrote to Stoltzfus March 5, saying, “We discussed your participation in the lawsuit and she has some reservations about you assisting in the challenge. At this point, we are unsure if at a later date your participation would … preclude you from voting on any issue related to this project.”

The Nally lawsuit joins a request by city residents Robert and Nicky Hunt filed with the Florida Department of Community Affairs for a hearing on the city’s method of computing density, particularly in the retail-office-residential district.

In a separate legal case, Richard Friday of 104 Park Ave., filed a complaint with the circuit court in March, alleging that two lots near his property shown as conservation land on the city’s future land-use map, are part of the proposed Banyan Tree Estates housing project.

Attorney Stephen Thompson representing Friday, said the city’s comprehensive plan takes precedence over the land-development regulations and zoning. Thompson has asked for a temporary injunction to halt any construction, then a permanent injunction.

Thompson said a permit issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the owners to build on the two lots is “null and void.”