ST. PETE BEACH — Dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to block redevelopment of the Dolphin Village Shopping Center appears to clear the way for the redevelopment of the 11-acre property at 4901 Gulf Blvd.
The project was opposed by Deborah Schechner and Mary and Henry Keller in a lawsuit filed by Ken Weiss, a Treasure Island lawyer who also represented Citizens for Responsible Growth in that group's successful 2006 referendum election to require voter approval for major changes to development codes.
Weiss also represents William Pyle in a current, unrelated lawsuit seeking to overturn this month's voter approval of changes to the city's comprehensive plan and development codes. Pyle is a major financial supporter of CRG, which also opposes the voter-approved changes to the city's land use plan.
In the Dolphin Village case, Circuit Judge George W. Greer ruled that the Kellers would not be affected "in any way" by the Dolphin Village project. He found it "difficult" to find how Schechner, who lives three-quarters of a mile from the proposed development, would be affected any more than a member of the general public, "particularly given the large number of individuals that reside much closer to the project."
"It is also notable that the property has been used as a shopping center for many years and that will continue to be its primary use," Greer wrote in dismissing the lawsuit on the basis that Schechner and the Kellers had no "standing" to be able to contest the development.
They had sought to block implementation of a City Commission-approved ordinance that rezoned the property from CG-1 Commercial to Planned Development, allowing the Publix to be renovated, adding other commercial services and creating 175 residential units.
Schechner had argued that the project would increase traffic on 46th Avenue, the only route to her property. In the original complaint she said the increased traffic would reduce her property values and possibly hamper evacuation in the event of a hurricane.
The City Commission approved the Dolphin Village rezoning early last year, the first step in replacing the aging Dolphin Village Shopping Center with a modern mixed-use project.
At the time, the developers, Tampa-based Dolphin Village Partners LLC, proposed a seven-story condominium, a two-story parking garage, and a two-story retail building. The redevelopment would include a bank, the remodeled Publix, shops along Gulf Boulevard and waterfront dining.