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Land battle to reach court _ 9 years later

Years ago, Harold and Charlotte Toms appeared at nearly every Crystal River City Council meeting, lambasting city officials for their handling of a property transaction.

Now, nine years after the land dispute erupted, the couple's federal suit against the city and several individuals has finally been scheduled for trial, said Dusty Ridge, who represented the Tomses in suits against the city.

The battle involves ownership of property at the end of NW Third Street _ the waterfront focal point of the Crystal River redevelopment effort.

The Tomses claim they own the property at the end of the street and the fish house that was on the property. The city also claims to own the land.

A pretrial conference will take place June 25, with the trial no earlier than July 7.

The 32-page lawsuit was filed in 1992 against the city, former City Manager Merv Waldrop, former police Chief Roger Krieger, real estate agent Ed Tolle, former City Attorney Jeannette Haag, State Attorney Brad King, former Assistant State Attorney Steven Hurm, Assistant State Attorney Jodi Seitlin and William Doles, the former operator of the fish house on the property.

The Tomses are joined in the suit by James T. Brown and Charles J. Clark, who were arrested for trespassing in the area.

City Attorney Clark Stillwell said he was aware that a trial date had been set but had few details because the city's insurance company was providing the attorney for this case.

That attorney, Michael Roper, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.