TREASURE ISLAND — The ongoing battle between Sunset Beach residents and Caddy's on the Beach is headed to court.
A class-action lawsuit filed against the popular beachfront bar and restaurant at 9000 W Gulf Blvd. has also ensnared the city of Treasure Island as a co-defendant.
At issue is whether Caddy's business activities violate city land-use regulations, leading to an "unlawful public nuisance," and whether the city, by allowing Caddy's to continue these operations, has failed to properly enforce its own zoning and land-use codes.
Some residents contend that Caddy's interferes with their property rights and lowers property values. Their complaints came to a head last spring when thousands of beach visitors jammed the beach and neighborhood streets.
Caddy's owner and operator Tony Amico says he is tired of fighting Sunset Beach residents, but he defends his right to operate.
During the height of the beach season, Amico said he spent about $12,000 a month for extra police and private security. He also had crews regularly clean the beach and set up portable toilets for beachgoers.
"I don't think we want to stop people from coming to the beach. Caddy's has been there since 1946 and now is a destination location where people stay all day. We are doing everything in our power to control the crowds. We are doing the best we can," Amico said.
City Manager Reid Silverboard declined to comment on the lawsuit, but did confirm that although many residents complain loudly about Caddy's during public meetings, no resident filed a formal code violation complaint in the past year.
Sixteen Sunset Beach residents are suing T.I. Holdings Inc., which owns Caddy's property; Gulf Sands Properties LLC, which owns and operates Caddy's; and the city of Treasure Island.
The residents are 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, Robb Gottron, Stephen Poohar and Jeffrey S. Warner. Attorney David Bacon filed the suit Dec. 7 on their behalf.
The lawsuit's complaints against Caddy's include:
• The selling and serving of food and alcohol that attracts a crowd that exceeds the restaurant's occupancy, seating, parking and restroom capacities.
• "Abnormal and unreasonable" amounts of pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic and "improper" parking on neighborhood streets, blocking residents' ability to leave or enter their properties and travel on their own streets.
• "Unreasonably excessive" noise from music played at Caddy's that interferes with residents' "quiet and peaceful enjoyment" of their properties.
• "Intoxicated and disorderly" conduct by Caddy's customers, who leave trash and debris on the beach and residential properties, and are guilty of frequent trespassing and "urinating" on private residential properties.
The residents are seeking an injunction to bar any commercial activities on the Caddy's properties that would be "unreasonably excessive" and violate city codes. They also want the court to order the city to "reasonably enforce" its own land-use regulations to prohibit unlawful business activities at Caddy's.