TREASURE ISLAND — A land swap between the owner of Caddy's On the Beach and the state of Florida has city officials concerned about future renourishment on Sunset Beach.
In a related matter, the city learned that Caddy's can legally sell alcohol to patrons sitting at picnic tables on its outside patio. Patrons apparently also can take their beer and other drinks out onto the open beach.
After a lengthy discussion Tuesday — and despite reassurances from Caddy's owner Tony Amico — the city is asking the state to guarantee that the result of a recent court settlement will not jeopardize future funding of beach renourishment.
The issue rose after Amico agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit he brought against the state of Florida to contest the state's contention that it, not Amico, owned several lots on the beach behind Caddy's.
Amico took the state to court and just recently the parties signed a settlement in which Amico agreed to deed his most westward lots to the state in exchange for the state giving him a quit claim deed to other lots closer to Caddy's.
"I paid a lot for that property and I am not going to lay down and let the state take it away from me," Amico told the commission.
He estimates he has spent over $5 million buying property around Caddy's.
"My concern is for the renourishment of our beaches," said Commissioner Ed Gayton, Jr. "If the state turns public lands over to private corporations, what will happen to beach renourishment funding?"
Amico said while the settlement bars him from building on his beach lots, he retains riparian rights to all of the beach. He said the state also agreed to continue renourishing the beach.
His assertion that the agreement also allows him to serve food, drinks including alcohol, put out lounge chairs and rent jet skis at the water, was met with resistance from the commission.
City Manager Reid Silverboard stressed that no matter what the state might allow, the city controls zoning and development of all property within the city limits.
Silverboard said that under a 2003 site plan approved by the city, Amico can sell alcohol and food in a limited open area behind the Caddy's building. Picnic tables are in that area now.
Caddy's also holds a package license also allows him to sell six packs of beer.
"Customers can come up to the bar, purchase a can of beer, walk out on the beach, pop the top and drink it," Silverboard said.
Although technically Caddy's consumption license does not allow customers to take open drinks out onto the beach, Silverboard said "that is the way it has actually operated for years."
"If he wants to serve food or operate commercially beyond what is approved in site plan, that would be expansion of his business and would have to meet all zoning codes," Silverboard said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bob Minning has written a letter to the state asking for clarification of future beach renourishment funding.
"We can take some solace that the renourishment scheduled for October of this year is a done deal," said Minning.