Lawsuit challenges Driftwood historic status

Opponents in the St. Petersburg neighborhood say the city infringed on their rights.
Opponents of St. Petersburg's historic designation for the Driftwood neighborhood are challenging the decision.  SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Opponents of St. Petersburg's historic designation for the Driftwood neighborhood are challenging the decision. SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published July 19

ST. PETERSBURG — The dispute over the historic status of Driftwood, the tranquil, tree-lined Old Florida neighborhood off 22nd Avenue S, has taken another litigious step. Opponents of the waterfront neighborhood’s recent designation as a historic district have filed a lawsuit against St. Petersburg and Laurie Macdonald, a neighbor who worked for its new status.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: St. Petersburg’s City Council reconfirms the Driftwood neighborhood’s historic status

Driftwood residents Daniel Schuh, Michelle Harris and Eduardo Zavala, among those who have opposed historic designation, are seeking a court review of the city’s decision, which was reconfirmed in May. Their lawsuit reiterates previous allegations, including violations of city code and mishandling of Driftwood residents’ ballots. The city requires approval by 50 percent plus one of a neighborhood’s tax parcels before an application can proceed.

The suit claims in part that “in its admittedly overzealous pursuit of historic designation,” the city infringed on the rights of opponents. Besides violating the historic preservation ordinance and “illegally altering ballots,” it says that the city refused to let opposing residents present relevant evidence and claims home values have gone down.

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