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HB v BB 27th Street dispute nears end

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry presented at the May 2 city commission meeting an offer to dismiss the lawsuit from Holmes Beach city attorney Patricia Petruff.

The saga began with a 2008 Bradenton Beach quitclaim deed to the Sandpiper Resort mobile home park. The property is on the northern border of the two cities.

Holmes Beach initially objected to the quitclaim, but took no action until 2011, when the resort installed fences, locked gates and posted private property signs at its border with Holmes Beach on 27th Street.

Holmes Beach filed a lawsuit to nullify the quitclaim, but initial court rulings did not go in its favor.

The November 2012 election swept in new Holmes Beach officials, who, along with Commissioner Jean Peelen, pledged to end the dispute.

At various meetings in both cities, the mayors made tentative announcements that the suit was coming to an end, but negotiations continued as new obstacles surfaced at every turn.

The two cities were prepared to end the suit early this year, but Bradenton Beach wanted it dismissed with prejudice, meaning legal action over the disputed property could never be taken again.

Perry said Petruff could not agree to that for her client Holmes Beach.

“I know this commission was concerned about finality,” said Perry. “This says without prejudice. That means at some time in the future, this could be filed again.”

Before asking for direction from the commission, Perry thanked Mayor John Shaughnessy for his tireless work even before he took office to amicably resolve the situation.

Perry said Shaughnessy singlehandedly made more progress than the two city attorneys did in resolving the dispute.

Shaughnessy thanked Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti in particular for his efforts on the other side of the fence to help resolve the matter.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time with the past and present commission of Holmes Beach,” said Shaughnessy. “It’s been a struggle.”

Shaughnessy said he is pleased to see the matter coming to a close.

“Mayor Monti and I have met on several occasions and have come to terms, and then legal counsel from Holmes Beach always seemed to raise more concerns,” said Shaughnessy. “The only change Holmes Beach legal would not agree to is the permanent finality. I will agree to this document as presented so we can move on.”

Shaughnessy and Commissioner Gay Breuler had to recuse themselves from the vote, but Shaughnessy continued attempts to resolve the matter.

“Sandpiper will agree to this, too,” he said. “I appreciate the efforts of all those in the city who worked to resolve this and the candor of Mayor Monti and the Holmes Beach commission.”

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse moved to approve the agreement to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice. It passed 3-0.

In other matters, commissioners voted 4-1 to accept a proposal from Arthur K. Peters of Gainesville to become the city’s telecommunications consultant.

The city parted ways with Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe after failed negotiations to retain him as the consultant, and after months of challenging Monroe’s ordinance.

The matter became contentious at times with Gatehouse saying the ordinance provided too much power and financial control to Monroe.

The city amended its ordinance to meet its own needs last month after officially parting ways with Monroe.

Peters was the only one to respond to the RFP and Vosburgh said she was not comfortable with hiring the only bidder. “I don’t like the idea that we only had one,” she said.

His bid includes a fee of $150 an hour, capped at eight hours a day, but also includes $75 for travel.

Breuler moved to accept the RFP with Gatehouse seconding the motion. The motion passed 4-1 with Vosburgh voting “nay.”

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