Hearings set in string of Holmes Beach Bert Harris cases

Eleven Bert Harris lawsuits against the city of Holmes Beach are churning up court dates.

Since 2016, more than 80 property owners invoked the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act against the city of Holmes Beach by filing claims at city hall. The state law provides a remedy for landowners whose property is unfairly impacted by government action.

Beginning in 2017, owners of 15 properties upped their claims to lawsuits in 12th Circuit Court.

The owners claim losses in fair market value due to city ordinances enacted in 2015-16.

To rein in party houses and other vacation rentals, the city enacted a series of ordinances at the behest of residents who went to city meetings complaining about problems, including parking, noise, garbage and changing neighborhoods.

In most of the pending suits, the city filed motions for judgments on the pleadings, contending the property owners did not make the requisite showing under the Bert Harris act.

The missing link, according to the city’s motions, is the plaintiffs/property owners failed to allege city officials ever denied a variance or development application.

The owners struck back with motions to be heard ahead of the city’s motions.

In seven pending cases, the plaintiffs are asking the court to find the city liable with partial summary judgments. They claim undisputed facts show timely claims, valid appraisals and property value losses due to the city’s occupancy restriction on existing uses.

Listed by plaintiff, address, amount of claim and court dates, the property owners with upcoming hearings are:

  • Brian Wien, 111 81st St., $220,000, July 30, Sept. 4.
  • R. Carlile Roberts, 6422 Gulf Drive, $380,000, Sept. 4.
  • AMI Breeze, , 209 54th St., $690,000, Aug. 8, Aug. 28.
  • Coral Escape of Holmes Beach, 132 50th St., $240,000, Aug. 8, Aug.28.
  • Robert and Michelle Carl, 4805 Second Ave., $275,000, Aug. 8, Aug. 28.
  • Robert and Michelle Carl, 118 50th St., $275,000, July 30, Sept. 4.
  • 307 66th LLC, 307 66th St., $295,000, July 30, Sept. 4.
  • Mojito Splash, 304 65th St., $275,000, Aug. 8, Aug. 28
  • 302 55th LLC, 302 55th St., $665,000, July 30, Sept. 4.
  • Shawn Kaleta, 204 72nd St., $400,000, July 30, Sept. 4.
  • 5501 Holmes LLC, 5501 Holmes Blvd., $670,000, Aug. 8, Aug. 28.

No court date is set for city’s motion in the lawsuit brought by Florida Gulf Coast Vacation Homes LLC, owner of 211 54th St., claiming a $395,000 loss.

Still pending — but without contested motions or court dates — is the case of Swackhamer Investments VI LLC, Bemeehan Investments VI and Kmeehan Investments VI, claiming a $225,000 loss for 106 75th St.

One of the first Bert Harris suits against the city, alleging $552,000 in damages at 104 75th St. by Frederick C. Hutchinson for the Patricia H. Hutchinson trust, was voluntarily dismissed in February.

Bob and Ellen McCaffrey’s $341,000 claim against the city went to trial in August 2018 and ended in a judgment that exonerated the city of liability, resulting in $5,600 in costs to the McCaffreys. Their mortgage holder has since filed for foreclosure on their residence at 7003 Holmes Blvd.

In the McCaffrey decision, Judge Lon Arend stated that the owners failed to tie alleged losses in market value to the government actions — an argument also raised by the city motions on the pleadings.

Trask Daigneault, a Clearwater law firm, including attorneys Jay Daigneault and Randy Mora, assigned by the city’s Florida League of Cities’ insurer, filed the city motions.

Aaron Thomas and Jason Miller, of Najmy Thompson in Bradenton, filed the plaintiffs/property owners’ motions.

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