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Date of Issue: June 29, 2006

City denies Olesen claim

Anna Maria city attorney Jim Dye has again rejected a claim by the Olesen family of 504 S. Bay Blvd. that the city vacated a 5-foot-wide path of beach walkway to the family years ago.

"I do not believe the question of whether the city vacated five feet of the beach walkway has been convincingly answered," he wrote to Craig Colburn, the Olesen's attorney, on June 20.

The Olesens had been constructing an addition to their house on the property earlier this year when work was halted by building official Kevin Donohue because of concern the Olesens were encroaching onto city property.

The Olesens countered that their family had used the five feet since the 1950s without complaint from the city and produced a number of letters written by prior city building officials indicating the Olesens had ownership/use of the 5-foot section.

But Dye responded that "there has been no evidence presented or uncovered that there has been any intent of the city to abandon that right of way."

He indicated the letters produced by the Olesens "at best indicate a mistaken impression on the part of the city staff at that time that the city previously vacated its interest in the five feet. The letters do not show an act of the city commission in 1982, or earlier, to vacate the walkway."

The city includes the walkway in its inventory of beach access points and the 1989 comprehensive plan shows the walkway as city property, he added.

The Olesens can either apply for a variance, request a formal vacation of the property in question, or proceed with a civil action against the city, Dye has previously indicated.