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RV park deal going to court

A developer sued to get deeds to 55 acres he is buying from Holiday Campground's owner. A hearing is Tuesday.

By MAUREEN BYRNE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001


SEMINOLE -- A landowner and a developer who both rejoiced when the city approved a zoning change so a large campground in Seminole could be developed into an upscale community will face each other in court Tuesday.

A hearing is scheduled for the case involving La Perla Development Group and Holiday Campground Inc.

In July, developer John Reed of La Perla filed a lawsuit against Bill Baynard Sr., owner of Holiday Campground, a 600-lot RV park at 10000 Park Blvd. The suit alleges that Baynard has failed and refused to provide copies of deeds for 55 acres of submerged land, part of a 101-acre parcel Baynard is selling to Reed for $11.4-million. The campground is located on the parcel.

The 55 acres cannot be developed because the land borders Long Bayou and a fragile wetlands system.

The suit claims La Perla cannot process preliminary site plans and other governmental approvals necessary to enable it to develop a $100-million project that would replace the campground with a mixture of single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums.

In August, Holiday Campground Inc. filed its own complaint, saying Reed was defaulting on his end of the deal.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John Lenderman will conduct the hearing, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Judicial Building in downtown St. Petersburg.

Leonard Englander, an attorney representing La Perla, declined to comment. Thomas McClain, the lawyer handling the case for Holiday Campground, could not be reached.

An employee at the campground said Friday that seasonal and year-round residents of the park are saying the deal between La Perla and Holiday Campground has fallen apart. Many of the campground's former tenants moved earlier in the year when they heard of the impending sale and development plans.

Even if the deal does go sour, that does not mean the land won't be developed, said Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds. Requests for land-use and zoning changes for the property so it could be developed into a multi-use community have been approved by the city, county and state.

An ordinance granting the changes is scheduled for a second and final reading at the City Council meeting Tuesday at Seminole Community Library.

Edmunds said the outcome of the litigation probably won't have any effect on the development of the property. If La Perla doesn't develop the property, "our guess is that there will be other developers coming along to do something on that site," he said.

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