New Bert Harris claim lands at city hall in Holmes Beach

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The most recent Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act claim is filed by John and Suzette Buchan, owners of this home at 7201 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Sandy Ambrogi

Add one more to the three dozen Bert Harris claims against the city of Holmes Beach alleging more than $14 million in damages.

Filed April 11, the latest Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act claim comes from John and Suzette Buchan of Caledonia, Michigan.

According to the claim, 7201 Gulf Drive has operated as a city-approved short-term rental and that, in 2015-16, the city changed the playing field by adopting ordinances limiting rental property to no more than two occupants per bedroom or a total of six, whichever is greater.

The city adopted the ordinances in response to an outcry from residents blaming rental properties on problems, such as parking, noise, garbage and a change in the city’s residential character.

The Buchans’ claim asserts $445,000 in damages, alleging the ordinances restrict their seven-bedroom rental accommodation, planned for 20 guests, to a lower occupancy.

The claim attaches an appraisal from a licensed appraiser “demonstrating the loss from the actions of the city of Holmes Beach,” according to the Buchans’ attorney, Aaron Thomas of Najmy Thompson PL of Bradenton, who wrote the April 11 claim letter to the city.

The city has 150 days from the date a claim is filed to respond, which, according to state statute, can be “no changes to the action of the governmental entity.”

The city has responded to 12 Bert Harris pending claims and offered no changes. The next response letter is due in June.

If not settled after the 150-day period, claimants can sue the city. Two Bert Harris court cases are pending against Holmes Beach.

Longtime residents and owners of 7003 Holmes Blvd., Bob and Ellen McCaffrey, filed a two-count complaint in January. The homeowners allege $106,000 in damages from six ordinances. They filed their claim after the city turned down their remodel plans. In March, the McCaffreys fought off a city dismissal motion.

In the most recent case filed against Holmes Beach, the corporate owners of Swackhamer Investments VI, Bmeehan Investments VI and Kmeehan Investments allege $225,000 damages, citing inordinate burdens from six ordinances, including new building restrictions, enacted 2013-16.

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