As the result of an executive session held on August 27 and a court document filed on September 6, a settlement has been reached between the city and the Silver Sands Beach and Racquet Club Master Association, a condominium complex, regarding a lawsuit over whether or not a beach area is private or public.
According to Florida Middle District Court records, the association filed a lawsuit in reference to a civil rights violation on September 14, 2018: case number 8:18-cv-02279.
The lawsuit states that the association was “given inadequate or no notice, and no due process,” before a beach area was declared open to the public based on the city’s Customary Use Ordinance. 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.’”
One of the issues is signage that says “Silver Sands Residents Only No Trespassing.”
The association argues that the historic and private character of their beachfront property along with the related signage predates the city’s Customary Use Ordinance, which was adopted “on or about June 29, 2018” according to the suit.
At the beginning of the August 27 executive session meeting, City Attorney Andrew W.J. Dickman said, “I’d like to talk about the possible settlement of this litigation. There are two reasons we have this meeting. One is for settlement negotiations and the other one is for strategy related to litigation expenditures.”
Mediation began on August 6 and the notice of a preliminary agreement was filed in court on September 6.
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 Mayor Alan Johnson. 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.
Other August Business
Commissioners unanimously approved city events for fiscal year 2020 on August 13 including the return of the Sunday market that will be held from October 6, 2019 through June 7, 2020 on Corey Avenue in the 200 to 400 block area from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Over 70 vendors will be featured including a fresh farmers’ market, outdoor cooking, handcrafted items and live music. Weekly crowd attendance is expected to be 2,000.
At their August 27 meeting, commissioners approved Grant Agreement Number R1927 that provides up to $70,000 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to fund the development of long-range planning to evaluate mitigation and adaption strategies that will protect city-owned facilities in the event of adverse sea level or rainfall conditions.
The entire City of St. Pete Beach is located on a barrier island located on the west coast of Pinellas County and it borders the Gulf of Mexico on its west side. For the environmental project, the city will continue to utilize the engineering services of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., a national-level firm based out of Raleigh, NC with an office in St. Petersburg.
Due to national holidays in late November and December, commissioners approved changes in their meeting dates for these two months. Normally, the commission meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays. Commissioners will meet on November 12 and 13, and December 10 and 11, which are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Tuesday meetings will be used to conduct regular business while on Wednesdays, commissioners will consider strategic long-range planning topics, said City Manager Alex Rey.