Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Man sues Tarpon Springs over waterfront property deal

TARPON SPRINGS — Henry Ross has been a thorn in the side of Tarpon Springs city officials for a long time, filing lawsuits and objections to city actions and causing a delay in construction of a new water treatment plant.

Now, Ross claims that the city got revenge by intentionally misinterpreting codes, denying him a building permit, and preventing him from selling a piece of waterfront property for a high price.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Ross has sued the city and its development services director, Joey DiPasqua. He is demanding a jury trial, and he wants the city to pay him the difference between the $495,000 he could have gotten for the property and the $286,235 he eventually got for it, plus attorney fees and court costs.

However, the city has filed a motion to have the case dismissed, arguing that Ross never asked the city for a building permit or anything else, so he can't sue for not getting them.

According to Ross' suit, he had a contract for sale of a lot on Florida Avenue. The contract "contemplated" construction of a stilt home on the property once fill dirt was brought in.

The lawsuit states that DiPasqua "purposely misinterpreted" Federal Emergency Management Agency rules about using fill dirt, and thus the deal fell through. Ross, who calls himself an activist in the filing, argues that the city "denied development as retaliation against a citizen resident who exercises his First Amendment rights."

However, in court documents DiPasqua states that while Ross asked him some general questions in 2005 and 2010 about building a stilt house on a piece of property on Florida Avenue, Ross never submitted an application for any permits.

DiPasqua declined to comment for this story.

"It has no merit whatsoever," Jay Daigneault, an attorney who works with City Attorney Jim Yacavone, said of the Ross lawsuit. "There has never been a development application of any kind. The city never made a decision whatsoever involving fill dirt. (Ross) never filed anything with the city and there was never any formal decision rendered by anyone."

Ross could not be reached for this story, and his attorney of record, John Shahan of Tarpon Springs, did not return repeated phone calls.

Ross makes another claim in the lawsuit that also has been rebutted.

He states that the would-be buyer of the lot contracted with Brandon Construction to build the stilt home and that the company had built one under similar circumstances nearby. Ross' suit states that Brandon disagreed with DiPasqua's interpretation of FEMA rules, but the city refused to consider the company's position.

However, Brandon Construction responded that Ross' statements are false and that the company never asked a city employee "to render an interpretation of any City ordinance or federal regulation."

"Brandon construction never entered into a contract with the prospective buyer to build a stilt home on the property," David Brandon said in court documents. "Further, Brandon Construction has never built a home or any other type of building in a 'V' zone in the City of Tarpon Springs."

Ross has filed several lawsuits against the city, including one that attempted to halt construction of a $45 million water treatment plant. Ross asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to deny the city a needed permit.

Bob Robertson, Tarpon's public services program manager, said that Ross' cases have been dismissed by the Second District Court of Appeal but caused a delay of about 20 months in the project.

In 2000, Ross filed a similar request to prevent the city from dredging the Anclote River. That matter took years to resolve.

Comments

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

1. Was editor of her high school newspaper, president of her 4-H club.2. Started stripping at age 17 in Baton Rouge, La.3. Made her first porn film with a girlfriend.4. Took her stage name from the Motley Crue bassist, who named his son Storm, and fr...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orches...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

TAMPA — In the center of the nightclub, between the cigar case and bustling bar, a giant screen blankets the back wall. Usually, ads for drink specials and coming attractions scroll across.But Friday night, a life-size picture of President Donald Tru...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Updated: 10 hours ago
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Police find dead man in Tampa apartment

TAMPA — Police found a dead man inside an apartment in the 5200 block of Sonora Court Friday after 3 p.m.Who the man is or how long he’s been dead is not yet clear, police said. The victim appears to have been killed in some sort of "homicidal violen...
Updated: 11 hours ago