A state administrative law judge has ruled that an attorney representing Richard Friday of Anna Maria must pay Steven Walker $2,000.
Friday and Walker are adjacent property owners near Anna Maria’s Park Avenue beach access and both have legal actions against the city regarding a Florida Department of Environmental Protection construction permit issued to Walker.
After Walker received a DEP permit to build a home, Friday filed an appeal of the permit with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.
Under rules required of an administrative hearing, attorney Ricinda Perry, on behalf of Walker, said the two parties first met to attempt a settlement. Perry said Friday did not agree to Walker’s settlement offer.
When Friday also did not agree to the terms of a joint stipulation about what evidence would be presented at the hearing, an administrative law judge heard the appeal case in March and ruled against Friday.
“Because of the obvious lack of legal merit” to Friday’s case, Perry said, Walker then requested sanctions, which are generally monetary reimbursements.
The judge, D.R. Alexander, granted sanctions Nov. 12 against Friday’s lawyer for “continuing to pursue the appeal.”
Alexander ordered Friday’s attorney, Harry Haskins, to pay Walker $2,000.
The judge said that Friday agreed prior to the March 16 hearing to present testimony that Walker’s environmental permitting process was flawed. Friday said he would also present evidence of Walker’s conflict with the city’s zoning code and comprehensive plan. Haskins was not Friday’s attorney when Friday agreed to present that evidence.
Alexander said Friday failed to present the environmental evidence, only the evidence that Walker’s planned project was in conflict with Anna Maria’s zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan.
Alexander said in his Nov. 12 order that the prior hearing was unnecessary because no environmental testimony was presented.
“Florida law was clear that Friday’s legal position was without merit,” Perry said following the Nov. 12 decision.
Friday has sued the city for informing Walker that it saw no obstacle for building in the environmental district, although the comprehensive plan states that no development is allowed in that land-use category.
Walker filed his legal action after the commission failed to pass a lot-split he requested for property he owns in the environmental zone that he claims was legally platted and accepted by the city.
Walker’s project is a three-bedroom house that would be built at 100 Park Ave., west of Friday’s house at 104 Park Ave.
Haskins said he “totally disagreed” with Alexander’s ruling, and was pursuing “other appellate options.”