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St. Pete Beach gets victory concerning development rules in appeals court

ST. PETE BEACH — The city has won yet another case in its seemingly never-ending legal battle over development rules.

Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland ruled in favor of the city in a case alleging that the city had violated the state's Sunshine Law when commissioners met privately with their attorneys last year to consider a settlement offer.

The lawsuit filed by resident Bruce Kadoura had previously been rejected by Circuit Court Judge David Demers. That ruling has now been upheld by the appeals court.

"This is very good news for the city of St. Pete Beach," Susan Churuti, one of the city's attorneys, wrote in an email to City Manager Mike Bonfield.

This year, the case attracted the attention of the First Amendment Foundation Inc., which filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Kadoura's appeal of Demers' ruling.

The foundation was formed in 1984 by the Florida Press Association, the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Association of Broadcasters to support free speech, a free press and open government.

In rejecting Kadoura's appeal as a per curiam decision, the court did not include an explanation of the ruling.

The appeals court also denied a request by Kadoura for his attorney fees and court costs to be paid by the city.

"I plan to discuss with my client the possibility of requesting a written opinion and appealing the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court," Weiss said Tuesday.

Bonfield said Tuesday that winning the case cost the city about $60,000, just a small part of the more than $1 million the city has spent defending against challenges to its comprehensive plan and the referendum that put it in place.

"Now we are down to just one case," Bonfield said.

St. Pete Beach gets victory concerning development rules in appeals court 12/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 4:51pm]
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