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Pirate's Cove Marina files lawsuit against Dunedin, this time over restaurant

DUNEDIN — Pirate's Cove Marina has filed its second lawsuit this year claiming Dunedin is causing the business to lose money.

The latest court action alleges that the city is trying to block the marina's owners from expanding the business at 2400 N Bayshore Blvd., near the Dunedin Country Club.

According to the suit, marina owners began meeting with city officials as far back as 2006 to seek guidance on plans to add 136 boat mooring slips and dry storage spaces and to also build a 4,100-square-foot restaurant.

Following a series of meetings, the complaint says, Dunedin approved the boat mooring and storage application in May 2010, with the understanding that Pirate's Cove was still working to modify the restaurant plan to meet city parking requirements.

However, this April the city broke its promise and abruptly terminated the restaurant application, the suit says. Marina owners were told they'd have to reapply under new city code guidelines adopted in November 2010.

It's not spelled out in the lawsuit, but city officials say the only difference between the new and old codes is that restaurants were subject only to staff approval under the old code, while the new code includes the extra step of a public hearing before the city's Board of Adjustment and Appeal, where citizens can give input.

The complaint, filed in September, doesn't ask for a trial. Instead, Pirate's Cove wants a judge to determine whether the marina's original restaurant application was lawfully rejected, and whether the new application should be considered under the new or old city code.

The marina also wants the court to order Dunedin to finish reviewing and approve the restaurant application in a timely manner. The suit asks for the court to award the marina court costs and "additional relief as the court may deem proper."

"The plaintiff is unable to proceed with the restaurant construction unless and until the city completes its review and approval of the site plan," the suit says. "The unwarranted delays by the city ... has caused and will continue to cause substantial financial losses and damages to the plaintiff."

The city is crying foul.

"There was no agreement to review the restaurant plan under the old code," said Dunedin attorney Jay Daigneault.

Marina attorney David Bacon of St. Petersburg did not return calls seeking comment.

In June, Pirate's Cove filed a suit claiming that Dunedin's and Pinellas County's increased use of Curlew Creek for stormwater drainage has caused sediment to pile up more quickly in recent years, resulting in increasingly high dredging costs for the marina.

Marina owners say the problem is hurting the 43-year-old boat navigation and mooring business, and the city and county should bear some of the cost of fixing it.

The case is still pending.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153.

Pirate's Cove Marina files lawsuit against Dunedin, this time over restaurant 12/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 24, 2011 11:52am]
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