Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Court dismisses one of two lawsuits targeting Belleview Biltmore sale

BELLEAIR — A Pinellas County Circuit Court panel has dismissed a preservationist group's lawsuit that alleged the town's approval of a request to subdivide the Belleview Biltmore property was illegal.

Late last year, the privately owned Belleair Country Club told town officials it had a contract to buy 2.3 acres of the hotel property for continued use as a parking lot. So the club asked the town to reduce its minimum size requirement for hotel properties from 20 acres to 17.5. Town commissioners approved the change in February.

Preservation advocate Rae Claire Johnson, president of the Friends of the Belleview Biltmore Inc., sued a month later, saying the February discussion should have been a quasijudicial hearing, with evidence and witnesses presented.

However, Judges Jack Day, Amy Williams and Pamela Campbell wrote in a July 25 opinion that they had no jurisdiction to set aside the town's vote because "the original adoption of the code was clearly a legislative act, and it naturally follows that a proposed amendment of that code is likewise legislative."

Attorney Ed Armstrong, who represented the country club, said: "We felt all along that it was simply a delaying tactic and we're pleased the matter is now behind us."

A separate federal court case by Johnson attempting to block the hotel's sale is pending.

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