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Date of Issue: April 26, 2007

Nallys sue Anna Maria again

For the second time in the past nine months, Barbara and William Nally of Spring Avenue in Anna Maria have sued the city for its decisions related to the Sandbar Restaurant.

The latest Nally salvo was fired April 13 when the Nallys challenged the "validity" of the city commission's decision to approve a number of special event permits for the restaurant to hold outdoor weddings. The Sarasota law firm of Lobeck & Hanson represented the Nallys in this action, as it has in the other two lawsuits.

The Nallys claim the special events will "interfere with the beneficial use and peaceful enjoyment of the surrounding property owners" by allowing "loud and objectionable noises to emanate from the pavilion" built on the Sandbar property. The lawsuit alleges that this will cause them "annoyance" and "material deterioration" in the value of their property.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the city commission, "first through policy and thereafter through improper actions," has given "invalid approval" to the Sandbar to hold the special events.

"The city and commission had no authority to consider, vote upon or approve numerous ‘special event' permit applications for events to be held upon property" owned by WELD Inc., the Nallys allege.

The Nallys "demand judgment regarding the validity" of the special event approval by the commission and to "provide appropriate injunctive relief," along with an award of costs and attorney's fees, and "further relief as deemed just and proper."

Mayor Fran Barford said the suit will be referred to city attorney Jim Dye and eventually to the Florida League of Cities, which defends the city against legal actions.

Sandbar owner Ed Chiles has said previously it would be inappropriate for him to comment on a legal action involving the city and another party.

The Nallys also have a lawsuit against the city for its approval of the Sandbar's final site plan.

While final arguments were heard on that case in the Manatee County Circuit Court March 13, Judge K. Logan had not  yet issued a final ruling as of April 20.

In addition to the two lawsuits against the city regarding the Sandbar, the Nallys also filed suit against the restaurant on March 1, alleging that the restaurant's commercial parking is illegal.

All three legal actions are being handled by Lobeck & Hanson.

But efforts by the Nallys to curtail the Sandbar have not stopped with lawsuits.

In early March, the Nallys petitioned the city commission to change the land-use designation of their Spring Avenue property from commercial to residential-office-retail in the city's proposed future land-use map that is part of the required changes to the comprehensive plan.

The Nallys had argued that an ROR land-use designation would be appropriate for "protecting existing residential land uses as well as adjacent, existing designated and zoned single-family residences." The commission rejected the request during its first public hearing on the FLUM, but may reconsider the issue at the next public hearing after the Florida Department of Community Affairs returns the proposed comprehensive plan and FLUM to the city with any required corrections and/or changes.

The Nally property on Spring Avenue is zoned commercial.

When the city commission approved an exception several years ago allowing them to rebuild their house at 110 Spring Ave., they were advised that they were building in a commercial zone and might have to suffer the consequences of commercial activity.

Efforts to reach the Nallys for comment were unsuccessful. A report that the Nallys rent out their Spring Avenue home for most of the year could not be confirmed.