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Date of Issue: April 09, 2008

Gee lawyers respond to response to responders

It’s getting a bit difficult to understand who all the responders in the lawsuit filed in December 2007 against the City of Anna Maria by resident Laura Gee regarding the city’s issuance of multiple variances to Gee’s neighbor, Terry Olesen.

The variances were part of a mediated settlement agreement in a lawsuit Olesen filed against the city after then-building official Kevin Donohue halted work in April 2007 on a renovation project at Olesen’s home at 504 S. Bay Blvd., alleging that the construction was encroaching on a city right of way.

Following a series of legal maneuvers and “responses” among all three parties, Gee fired back on March 31 when her attorney, Ricinda Perry, replied to “respondents’ response to this court’s order to show cause.” Perry said the “purpose for this reply is to respond to respondents’ contention on page two of their response.”

Perry alleged that the city did not have “competent substantial evidence” to grant the variances, as the city contended in its response to Gee’s lawsuit. Rather, she said, the aforementioned settlement agreement “formed the basis for the city’s approval of the variances at issue, not the requisite evidentiary basis” established by the city’s land-development code.

She asked the court to “find that certiorari relief be granted” to her client.

The matter began in April 2007 when Donohue ordered a halt to the Olesen remodeling project because he believed it was encroaching on a city-owned 10-foot-wide right of way on the north end of the Olesen property.

Although the Olesens produced letters from city officials in the early 1980s indicating those officials believed the Olesens owned the easement, city attorney Jim Dye was not able to find where the city had ever legally vacated the easement to the Olesens.

The Olesens sued, Donohue was dismissed in a cost-cutting measure, the city agreed to mediation and eventually the variances were granted.

Gee counter-sued, the city responded, but did not grant the Olesens a certificate of occupancy pending the outcome of the Gee lawsuit. The Olesens sued to demand the city comply with the mediation settlement and Gee has now responded.

The city’s attorney, Greg Hootman on behalf of the Florida League of Cities, had not yet filed his “response to responders response” as of press deadline April 4.