Court backs city's condo site denial

Published May 2, 2007

DUNEDIN - A three-judge panel said the city had the right to deny the final site plan of a condominium project planned for a spot near the downtown waterfront.

Developer Dunedin Marina View LLC had asked the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court to force the City Commission to reconsider its denial of the five-story, 12-unit, upscale condo complex planned for 715 Edgewater Drive.

But the legal battle isn't over. Ed Armstrong, the lawyer representing Dunedin Marina View and site owner Kelly Prior, said Monday that he will file a motion to ask the judges to rehear the case.

The plaintiffs also are awaiting a ruling of a separate motion before the court, asking a judge to order the city to approve the site plan. The plaintiffs also are seeking incidental damages.

The condominium project met most of the city's code criteria but was denied approval in August because city leaders deemed it incompatible with its surroundings.

Residents opposed to the project said it would overwhelm surrounding buildings.

Armstrong argued that because the project was determined to be compatible with surroundings in a preliminary hearing, the city had no grounds to determine it incompatible at the final hearing.

The court disagreed.

"As established by the City's Code, compatibility could be considered at the final review stage and form a basis for denial of the final site plan, " the judges wrote in an order filed late last week.

Obviously, City Attorney John Hubbard was pleased with the court's order.

"The City Commission tries its very best to do what is right for the people of Dunedin and sometimes that means the developers don't get everything they want, " Hubbard said.