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Bradenton Beach seeks dismissal of Holmes Beach lawsuit

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Bradenton Beach filed a motion July 24 in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Holmes Beach concerning ownership of 27th Street.

Holmes Beach filed suit May 24 asking the court to declare as public a portion of the street adjacent to the Sandpiper Resort, a mobile home cooperative in Bradenton Beach. The street runs east of Gulf Drive to Sarasota Bay within Bradenton Beach at the border of Holmes Beach.

The lawsuit also seeks a court order requiring the Sandpiper to remove gates and private property signs from a fence at the border and to remove a portion of the fence for access between adjoining property in Holmes Beach.

Bradenton Beach’s motion, filed by Charles F. Johnson of the Bradenton law firm of Blalock Walters, P.A., maintains that Holmes Beach failed to set forth a legal claim to allow a court to declare 27th Street a public street.

The motion also argues that Holmes Beach lacks “standing to request the relief sought,” and failed to contain proper allegations for the requested court order to remove the signs, fence or gate.

“The underlying property is owned by either Sandpiper, Bradenton Beach or unspecified third parties,” according to Johnson’s motion. “There is no factual scenario, and certainly none alleged in the complaint, where the underlying property is owned by the plaintiff.”

Johnson states the allegation that the property is “to be held for the public in general” does not provide standing.

The Sandpiper Resort in June argued the mobile home park was improperly named in the lawsuit, and Holmes Beach corrected the name error with an amended complaint June 27.

As of the end of June, about $9,300 has been spent by Holmes Beach “suing our neighbors,” according to Commissioner Jean Peelen.

Peelen and fellow Commissioner John Monetti each recused themselves from voting on Sandpiper-related matters — Peelen because she owns property in the mobile home park and Monetti because he owns property on the border of 27th Street in Holmes Beach.

While Peelen has spoken against the lawsuit, Monetti, who is running for re-election in November, has been vocal about providing access by Holmes Beach residents to 27th Street.

The dispute first arose in December 2008 when Holmes Beach learned of an impending Bradenton Beach quitclaim deed and ordinance supporting the property transfer to Sandpiper Resort.

At the time, Bradenton Beach supported the quitclaim to clarify ownership of land because some Sandpiper mobile homes were found encroaching on the 27th Street right of way.

While Holmes Beach commissioners dropped the matter shortly after pointing out the city’s objections to the deed, the issue arose again last summer when the Sandpiper erected a fence, installed gates and posted no trespass signs along the border.

Last fall, Holmes Beach initiated a conflict-resolution process, which is required before one municipality sues one another. The state-mandated process did not require the Sandpiper’s participation.

A series of public meetings ended in February without resolution.

After private settlement discussions in March between Holmes Beach and Sandpiper representatives, Holmes Beach commissioners proceeded to file the lawsuit.

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