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Council decision leads to lawsuit

Pinellas Park's decision against a countertop maker was based on "unfounded fears," not facts, an industrial park's suit says.

Published October 10, 2006

The owner of an industrial center is asking an appellate court to overturn the Pinellas Park City Council's decision not to allow a tenant, Surface Technology Corp., to relocate to the park.

Bowing to neighbors' fears, council members unanimously rejected in August a request by Surface Technology, a countertop maker, to move to the industrial center near Pinebrook Estates.

The center is east of Belcher Road and north of Bryan Dairy Road, between 114th and 118th avenues N.

The council's decision should be overturned, according to the suit, because the evidence the council relied on in denying the company's request "consisted of nothing more than unfounded fears, speculation, and misconceptions of fact."

That was insufficient to support the council's decision to reject the company's request, the suit says.

Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell declined to comment because litigation is pending.

According to the lawsuit, Sac Chic LLC bought the industrial park in November 2005 for about $4.5-million. Earlier this year, representatives of Sac Chic and Surface Technology Corp. met with city staff members about the possibility of the company's moving to the industrial park from Gulfport.

Pinellas Park staff members agreed that Surface Technology could move to the industrial park and issued building permits.

The company then spent about $300,000 to install equipment and otherwise make the property ready for its business.

Nearby residents soon objected to the idea of the countertop maker locating in the park.

They argued that the dust from the granite, quartz and Corian fabrication would be dangerous to their health and that the noise would disturb them.

They also argued that the industrial park's master plan did not allow a countertop maker. The rules, adopted in the mid 1980s before there were countertop makers, allowed cabinemakers and metal fabricators.

Surface Technology Corp., arguing that those industries were essentially the same type of business, insisted that it should be allowed to open its business.

The company also gave evidence indicating the dust from the Corian material was neither hazardous nor odorous.

It also said that there would be no dust from the granite and quartz counters because those were made under water. The water prevents dust from forming and creates a "cake" that is thrown away.

Surface Technology also promised to install a state-of-the-art system to ensure that would be effective. But council members were not convinced, and turned down the request.

[Last modified October 9, 2006, 21:08:12]

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