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Date of Issue: March 05, 2008

Accusations thrown in Olesen-Anna Maria-Gee dispute

The legal difficulties involving Anna Maria and its dispute with the Olesen family of 504 S. Bay Blvd. - accompanied by a dispute between Laura Gee of 502 S. Bay Blvd. and the city are far from over.

The city is already facing a court order to “show cause” in Gee’s legal dispute with the city regarding the issuance of multiple variances to the Olesens to complete their remodeling project. Now, Olesen attorney Darren Inverso has further complicated the issue with a Feb. 20 letter to city attorney Jim Dye alleging the city is breaching a mediation agreement it made with the Olesens regarding the project.

Inverso wrote that Gee had informed him that the city’s building official indicated to her that a certificate of occupancy “would not be issued” until the “front wall” and “roof overhang issues were resolved.” Further, said Inverso, Gee said that the official, Steve Gilbert, alleged that this directive came from Dye.

Inverso said he and his client regard the non-action by Gilbert as a “breach of the settlement agreement” and questioned how Dye’s instructions are in compliance with that agreement.

Inverso also claimed that numerous attempts to meet with Gee and her attorney, Ricinda Perry, to discuss the issues have failed and that Perry “will not meet with us to discuss any options besides moving the air conditioner.”

Adding more fuel to the fire, Inverso noted that Gee obtained a variance several years ago to move her building pad closer to the property line. “Now, she claims that a brand new air conditioner with insulating buffers makes too much noise,” he said.

 Leveling his own charge, Inverso said that according to public records, Gee had a large-scale remodel during the time of her requested variance and “we have reason to believe that she has violated those building plans, has installed a bathroom on the ground floor of that structure, and has actually occupied the bottom of this structure while renting out the top portion of the property.”

Inverso also accused Dye and the city with breaching the agreement and supporting Gee. He claimed he has repeatedly asked Dye and supporting counsel Greg Hootman of the Florida League of Cities “whether or not you are going to comply with the settlement agreement.” He alleged Dye and Hootman have avoided answering the question for a number of weeks.

The variances were the result of a legal action by the Olesens that resulted in a court-ordered mediation settlement between Olesen and the city over ownership of a 10-foot easement on the north side of the Olesen property, between his property and Gee’s.

The Olesen family sued the city in late 2006 after negotiations with the city to resolve the ownership issue were unsuccessful. The suit came several months after then-building official Kevin Donohue issued a stop-work order for the renovation project because he believed the project was encroaching on city property.

After the commission granted the variances, Gee filed a legal action requesting that the city review its decision.

 Circuit Judge Paul Logan has ruled that Gee has "demonstrated a preliminary basis for relief,” and gave the city until March 6 to “show cause” why relief should not be granted.”


City responds

Hold on a second, partner, the city might well have said in response to Inverso and the Olesens. The city is not supporting Gee.

In fact, Gilbert issued the Olesens a temporary certificate of occupancy Feb. 25, but acknowledged in a letter to the Olesens that his and city planner Alan Garrett’s investigation “has revealed that there are at least two pressing matters” that have to be resolved before a final certificate of occupancy can be issued. Those “matters” are the roof overhang and the setback of the courtyard wall.

In keeping with the mediation agreement between the Olesens and the city, Gilbert wants to resolve those “matters” and said he has asked Dye and Hootman “for their opinions and guidance on how to proceed with remedies and corrections.”

Gilbert added that while those attorneys are conducting their own review, any proposal from the Olesens on how to solve the problems is appreciated.