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Holmes Beach, Mainsail developers to mediate June 21

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

The first step in determining if litigation can be avoided between Holmes Beach and the Mainsail Lodge developers will be taken at 9 a.m. Friday, June 21, at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

City attorney Patricia Petruff said the initial proceeding is basically “the start of a negotiation or, at least, for the special magistrate to get a better understanding of what the issues are, if there is common ground and whether it can be mediated.”

Petruff reminded commissioners at a June 13 work session that commissioners could attend the public meeting, “but it’s not your public meeting, so do not sit near one another or have any discussions with one another.”

To do so, would violate Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

Mayor Carmel Monti and Commissioner Judy Titsworth were appointed by the commission in May to be the city’s representatives in the negotiations along with Petruff.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino recommended Monti and Titsworth because the two represent opposite sides of the vote that revoked the Mainsail site plan in March.

Petruff said the special magistrate will determine during the opening round of negotiations if mediation is possible, but if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement, July 24-25 have been scheduled to begin the possible quasi-judicial hearing, where both sides will present their case.

Sarasota attorney Robert Lincoln, representing Mainsail, filed a petition for relief with the city April 18 to initiate a process under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Act, which allows a property owner to seek relief from a government entity that is placing a burden on the property’s existing use.

“The second phase is more of a hearing where evidence is taken and the special magistrate listens to public testimony,” said Petruff. “At the end of that step, he will provide a written recommendation. If both sides agree to the recommendation, it ends. If not, then the next step is likely litigation.”

Mainsail is seeking to revoke the commission’s 3-2 vote that rescinded the site plan and accuses the city of violating procedures. Lincoln alleges the commission had no authority to revoke the site plan, saying the decision belonged to the mayor and building official.

Special Magistrate Steven Seibert will preside over the meetings.

Monti supported the continued efforts of the Mainsail development team  to proceed with their revised site plan along with Zaccagnino and Commission Chair Jean Peelen, but under the Holmes Beach city charter, Monti does not have a vote.

Titsworth and Commissioners Pat Morton and Marvin Grossman opposed the site plan, saying it violated the land development code in setback requirements and Grossman, in particular, addressed several concerns outlined in the new site plan.

Commissioners have unanimously stated they want the property developed, and those in opposition invited Mainsail to start from scratch with a new plan that would comply with current city codes. But, Mainsail sited a substantial financial investment in the work that had been completed at the city’s behest.

The site plan includes lodging, a restaurant and other amenities in what is considered the city’s business district at Gulf and Marina drives.

The June 21 hearing is a public meeting. However, invitations were sent only to those who spoke at previous public hearings to provide testimony and only at the request of Seibert will that testimony be taken.

No other public comment will be allowed.

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