Anna Maria commissioners voted Nov. 30 to emphasize an offer to purchase property that is the subject of a Bert Harris claim.
A claim filed May 23 by John Lynch alleges the undeveloped lot lost $340,000 in value after occupancy restrictions prevented him from developing the property into a four-bedroom rental home with a 12-person occupancy.
Since April 1, when a vacation-rental ordinance was adopted in Anna Maria limiting occupancy in short-term rentals to eight people, 86 Bert Harris claims have been filed against the city amounting to nearly $30 million in alleged losses.
The Bert Harris Jr. Private Property Protection Act of 1995 allows property owners to seek relief if they can prove a government action lowered the value of their property.
Claimants must provide appraisals to establish value, but settlements can either fully or partly restore the rights that existed before the prohibitions, in lieu of a cash settlement.
By law, the city has 150 days to respond to the submitted claims.
City attorney Becky Vose has brought numerous settlement suggestions to the commission — allowing more guests than the ordinance allows, but not fully restoring the unlimited number of guests allowed before the VRO.
She brought purchase offer settlement recommendations to the commission Sept. 8 for multiple properties.
The offers that go out to the property owner are subject to negotiation or acceptance within the allotted 150 days. If no agreement is reached, the matter then goes to the circuit court.
The commission authorized a purchase offer Oct. 13 of $550,000 for an undeveloped lot at 62 N. Shore Drive, or, as an alternative, $890,000 for the property developed according to the claim.
Lynch rejected the offer in favor of an occupancy settlement.
At the Nov. 30 commission meeting, Vose initially recommended a 12-person occupancy settlement with a contingency that Lynch be allowed a den, which could also be used as a bedroom, in the home plans.
However, Commissioner Carol Carter recommended the city push to purchase the property for use as a pocket park.
Vose then modified her recommendation to resend the $550,000 offer for the undeveloped lot and emphasize the city’s interest in purchasing the property.
Commissioners voted unanimously to resend the purchase offer. The deadline for this Bert Harris case is Dec. 19.
Commissioners also voted 3-2 to offer occupancy rate settlements on three other properties Nov. 30. Carter and Commissioner Nancy Yetter voted against the settlements.
A Bert Harris claim filed July 12 by 205 Elm LLC for property at 205 Elm Ave. alleges the loss of $345,000 after the VRO limited it from 14 overnight guests to eight. Vose recommended settling at 12 guests, but upping it to 14 if a second den that can house guests is added to the structure.
In a claim filed by Corinna Ollashirazi alleging property at 851 N. Shore Drive lost $295,000 after occupancy for the three-bedroom home was reduced from 10 guests to eight, Vose recommended the city agree to 10 guests.
At 306 Tarpon St., a claim filed by Tommy and Michelle Bolton alleging the four-bedroom property, restricted from 12 to eight guests, lost $245,000 in value, Vose recommended settling at 10 guests.
The city of Anna Maria has settled 45 of 86 claims. 15 have not yet to receive an offer from the city.
Attorney Louis Najmy of the law firm Najmy Thompson P.L. in Bradenton represents the bulk of the Bert Harris cases against Anna Maria. Attempts to reach Najmy for comment were unsuccessful.