A dispute over the boat canopies that are said to block the waterfront view from some units at a condominium complex in Holmes Beach is now backed by a claim that the diminished view is hitting one owner’s pocket book.
Some of the residents and the property manager at Westbay Point & Moorings condominiums predicted property values would be reduced by diminished water views.
They blamed Holmes Beach after two boat docks, lifts and canopy covers were installed in cooperation with the West Manatee Fire Rescue District.
The dock space allocated to fire rescue and police boats are on Watson’s Bayou at the city-owned 63rd Street boat ramp.
Some Westbay residents complained the canopies installed in November 2016 block their views of the water and they predicted diminished property values.
Now, it appears as if one property owner has a claim of lost revenue.
Mary Giudice, who owns Westbay unit 242, said the canopies are in the line of sight to the water from her property. She said she had to lower her $2,600 monthly rental fee 31 percent to $1,800 after the canopies and floodlights were installed.
“I have been both financially and emotionally affected,” said Giudice. The lost income affects her ability to pay medical bills as she battles cancer, she said.
“My property has been devalued by that hideous canopy but my taxes remain the same,” Giudice said.
Flood lights installed for the vessels still point directly into her home, she said.
“The tenants could not enjoy the evening,” she said. “The town finally decreased the lights but they are still intrusive.”
Alec Graham, president of the Westbay Point Community Association Board, said he’s concerned other owners are similarly harmed.
“This is not fair to these owners,” Graham wrote in a recent email to Mayor Bob Johnson and Judy Titsworth, chair of the Holmes Beach City Commission.
The beige canopies cover and protect the emergency vessels from sun damage.
Residents are not allowed to have boat canopies, points out property manager Robert McGlynn, now in his 35th year at Westbay Point and Moorings.
Police Chief Bill Tokajer maintains the canopies are on city property and therefore legal.
Leo Mills & Associates Inc. of Palmetto was hired by Holmes Beach to define the respective riparian rights of the city and Westbay and determine whether the canopies are on city property or infringe on Westbay property at the water’s edge.
Mills did not return repeated calls for comment.
McGlynn said the city retaliated after resident protests against the canopies by questioning the legality of Westbay’s mangrove trimming and whether its docks required a lease from the state.
“This has been a huge distraction and a bother for a couple months,” McGlynn reported to the Westbay Point Community Association Board.
The mangrove situation was an overreaction by local authorities, McGlynn maintains.
“They are upset with Westbay because Westbay III owners want the city’s boat canopies removed,” he said.
Tokajer maintains his department responded to a complaint about excessive mangrove trimming.
“There was no improper action taken by law enforcement.” Tokajer said. “We will continue to look at complaints as they come in.”
Local law enforcement has no authority over mangrove trimming, which is overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The DEP found Westbay’s mangrove trimming in compliance with the Mangrove Protection Act, according to a June 26 email from Robert Rosbough, DEP environmental specialist — unless it is determined Westbay trimmed mangroves on city property.
The chief and the city commission are awaiting a survey to determine the property lines for the city and Westbay with regard to the canopies and mangroves. Tokajer maintains Westbay’s mangrove trimming extended substantially onto city property.
“You may continue with your mangrove trimming,” Rosbough advised McGlynn in the email.
The DEP also confirmed the Westbay docks do not require a lease from the state.
McGlynn said the chief raised those questions in hopes of pulling focus from the boat canopies.
“In a perfect world, the canopies disappear by November when everybody comes back,” McGlynn said of the seasonal owners at Westbay. “There will be a lot more angry emails if they are not.”
The city commission will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 13, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.