After holding an executive session on Tuesday, September 17, St. Pete Beach Commissioners unanimously approved a $50,000 settlement fee in the Silver Sands Beach and Racquet Club Master Association lawsuit regarding whether or not a beach area adjacent to the condominium complex is private or public.
According to Florida Middle District Court records, the condominium association filed a lawsuit against the city in reference to a civil rights violation on September 14, 2018: case number 8:18-cv-02279.
The payment covers “attorney’s fees and costs incurred in the litigation paid to Silver Sands council for a portion of the claim in exchange for the dismissal,” said Robert Sherman, an attorney with Henderson Franklin of Fort Myers who has been working the case for the city.
“No one is agreeing that they’ve done anything wrong. No one is agreeing that there is any liability on anyone’s part,” said Sherman. “It is simply a settlement of litigation in order to avoid the perpetuation of litigation.”
Part of the agreement asks that commissioners consider the repeal of the Customary Use Ordinance No. 2018-07, said Sherman.
According to the lawsuit, the ordinance “declares that the public has a right to use the dry sand area landward of mean high water on all beaches within the city for ‘recreation and other customary purposes.’”
The association argues that the historic and private character of their beachfront property along with the related signage predates the city’s ordinance, which was adopted “on or about June 29, 2018.”
The condominium complex is located at 6595 Sunset Way.
City Attorney Andrew W.J. Dickman explained to commissioners that by agreeing to the terms of the settlement including the fee, the case is being dismissed without prejudice.
“What that means is that this lawsuit could occur again but they are releasing the city, all of the defendants from anything that has occurred up to now,” said Dickman. “But there is nothing they have agreed to that says they will not bring this lawsuit back again at some point. They would have to refile a complaint.”
Based on state statutes, the transcript from the city’s attorney-client executive session is exempt from the Florida public records law until the litigation is concluded, said Dickman. After final notice of settlement has been filed with the court, a transcript of the executive session may be obtained from the clerk of the city commission.
In Other Business
At their Tuesday, September 3 regular meeting, commissioners approved Corey Avenue road closures in the 200-400 blocks from October 6, 2019 through June 7, 2020 for the Corey Area Business Association Sunday Market.
Also regarding the Corey Avenue Business District along the 300-400 blocks, commissioners approved a change in a resurfacing and streetscape project that will add 10 more days to the contractor’s existing construction time.
Gibbs & Register, Inc. has been awarded the street contract that totals $232,188. This is in addition to a larger project the firm was awarded from the city on September 9, 2018 named Blind Pass Road Reconstruction from 75th Avenue to Gulf Boulevard that totals $8,529,079.94.
For all of St. Pete Beach, commissioners agreed to have the city manager to enter into contract negotiations with Waste Connections, Inc. for solid waste services. Examples of proposed residential fees include a $15.80 regular monthly charge for curbside cans and $22.80 for special backdoor pick-ups. Sixty-four-gallon trash and recycling carts will be for sale to residents for $75 each, as needed.
Christmas Parade Street Closures
At their regular Tuesday, September 17 meeting, commissioners approved street closures for the St. Pete Beach Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 14.
The Upham Beach staging area will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon. The parade route will close from 10:45 a.m. to noon.
The parade will start at 11 a.m. and last for about an hour with a route that begins at the beach on Beach Plaza Road heading north to 71st Avenue then south on Sunset Way to Corey Avenue and then east to City Hall in the 100 block of Corey Avenue.