TREASURE ISLAND — An on-again, off-again lawsuit against Caddy's On the Beach and the city of Treasure Island was renewed Friday by a group of Sunset Beach residents seeking to severely restrict operations at the popular beach restaurant and bar.
Resident complaints began flooding city hall last year during spring break when thousands of beachgoers filled the beach surrounding Caddy's.
Traffic clogged the area's narrow streets. Cars parked in neighborhoods, often blocking resident driveways. Drunken beachgoers left trash on lawns, and sometimes used resident yards as restrooms.
What to do about crowds at Caddy's became a frequent topic at City Commission meetings.
Police presence and law enforcement were increased. Portable toilets were installed. Large beer kegs were banned.
By the end of summer, beach crowds diminished, but residents still sought a permanent solution.
One group unsuccessfully tried to get enough signatures to put a referendum banning alcohol on the beach on the March ballot.
Another group decided to fight through the courts — most recently filing an amended complaint in the Circuit Court against Caddy's and the city.
"This is a big deal for all of us residents. Caddy's has had a major impact on our property values," Randy Green, one of the 15 residents filing the lawsuit, said Tuesday.
Green called the lawsuit "a very expensive last resort" to force the city to enforce its codes. "It is really terrible to have to do this. None of us is happy and it is costing us a lot of money."
Many of the more than 100 residents that previously signed petitions seeking city help are supporting the group financially, he said.
"Our goal is not to shut Caddy's down, but to make sure the city steps up and does something," Green said.
Caddy's, at 9000 W Gulf Blvd., has operated under different names since the 1940s, according to owner Tony Amico.
Amico purchased the business in 2001. Since then and through a variety of holding companies, he also purchased nearby properties, many of which are used for parking.
The residents first filed in early December against T.I. Holdings Inc., which owns Caddy's property, and Gulf Sands Properties, LLC, which owns and operates Caddy's, as well as against the city of Treasure Island.
Neither the city nor Caddy's was ever served with formal notice of the lawsuit and several weeks later the group's attorney said he intended to dismiss the city as a defendant.
In early January, the residents decided to change lawyers, hiring Anthony Battaglia.
Friday's amended lawsuit again includes the city and specifically names City Manager Reid Silverboard, Neal Schwartz, the city's building official and code enforcement officer, and Lynn Rosetti, the city's planner, as co-defendants.
T.A. Holding Company One LLC, which is a part owner of some of the Caddy's parking lot properties listed in the lawsuit, also was added as a defendant.
"We had to do an entire new study of the issues and started from scratch to make a legal determination on who to sue, and on what grounds to base the lawsuit," said Battaglia.
The residents pursuing the lawsuit include: Andrew and Mary Beth Becker, Mike and Mary Daughtry, R.B. Nicholson, Raymond D. Green, Catherine J. Rezak, Randy and Dee Dee Kahn, Robin J. Welborn, William D. Fowler, Michael and Kathy DeLong, Stephen Poohar and Jeffrey S. Warner.
Battaglia alleges that Caddy's "no longer complies" with the city's land development regulations or comprehensive plan because the size of the crowds the business attracts exceeds the property's allowable intensity of use under city codes.