Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Preservationist group sues Belleair over Belleview Biltmore property division

BELLEAIR — A non-profit group fighting to save the Belleview Biltmore hotel from demolition is taking Belleair to court, asking a judge to decide whether the town has authority to subdivide the hotel property.

Late last year, the privately-owned Belleview Biltmore 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 preliminarily approved the change in February. A second public hearing and final vote is slated for tonight.

But in a lawsuit filed Thursday, Rae Claire Johnson, president of Friends of the Belleview Biltmore, argued that only the hotel's owners – not the country club – have standing to make such a request. Further, the suit contends, subdividing the property would harm any chance of the historic hotel being preserved because there wouldn't be enough land left to meet Belleair's requirement of more than 2,000 parking spaces.

Johnson also claims Belleair violated its own ordinances by failing to properly advertise its first vote on the matter or to let her sufficiently lay out her argument beforehand.

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