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City answers citizen complaint

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

A 7-year-old development dispute is reaching a judicial review at the Manatee County courthouse, where Bradenton Beach resident and property owner Ken Lohn has lodged a complaint against the city.

Lohn has been challenging a development neighboring his bayfront property in Bradenton Beach for years. Last summer, he took the city to court over the matter, which involves his allegation that the city wrongfully issued a certificate of occupancy.

But not until this fall did the court invite the city to respond to Lohn’s complaint.

The city’s response, filed about two weeks ago at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton, consists of 15 pages, plus an appendix, and it maintains that Lohn’s case has no merit.

Lohn lives on Bay Drive South and owns a nearby duplex. He has long challenged a project adjacent to his property, including the city building official’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy for a duplex at 109 Fifth St. S.

In April 2009, the Bradenton Beach Board of Adjustment recommended that the city commission deny Lohn’s complaint regarding the now privately owned Fifth Street property.

In June 2009, the city commission voted against Lohn’s complaint, which essentially is that a driveway built on an easement alongside his home is too close to his property line and too narrow.

So Lohn went to court in July 2009 to seek a judicial review of the commission’s decision.

“This complaint challenges the city of Bradenton Beach issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the multi-family condominium … despite the fact the location is in violation of express provisions of the Bradenton Beach Land Development Code,” the complaint states.

City attorney Ricinda Perry prepared the city’s response, which stated, “The city determined, based on competent and substantial evidence, that the issuance of the CO was proper and consistent with the applicable zoning and land-use regulations. Absent an abuse of discretion or a clearly erroneous decision by the city commission, the decision of the city must be upheld.”

Perry, in the response, asked the court to issue an order upholding the city decision and did not ask for oral arguments, which she said were unnecessary.

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