Treasure Island officials violated city rules when they allowed a hotel to be built without adequate space between it and the buildings next to it, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by attorney Ken Weiss.
Weiss has asked the court to rule that the permit the city issued was invalid from the get go and to require the Treasure Island Beach Resort to comply with the city’s setback rules. It is unclear how the resort could comply if it is too big for the lot as it has already been built.
Weiss said his goal is to “hold the city officials who permitted it accountable. What was done may be irreparable harm to the city and residents.
“The entire basis for the city’s request for more density and height was based on view corridors. That view corridor requirement which now exists appears to have been intentionally violated by the people who are responsible for enforcing development laws.”
He added, “If they violated the terms of their employment agreement by taking action which was directly contrary to the city’s ordinances, they should be terminated. Or resign. I hope people understand the harm.”
Treasure Island City Manager Reid Silverboard said he had not seen the lawsuit, but is aware of Weiss’ charge.
“The setbacks are correct,” Silverboard said.
Weiss’ lawsuit alleges that the Treasure Island code requires fairly wide setbacks – 30 percent of the lot width – for buildings on beachfront property. The idea is to maintain “view corridors” so the buildings don’t block views of the Gulf.
The view corridors also mean there’s less likelihood that a concrete “tunnel” effect will be created if there’s space between buildings.
In the case of the Treasure Island Beach Resort, 10800 Gulf Blvd., Weiss estimates the lot width at about 350 feet. Thirty percent of that, he said in the suit, would be 105 feet, so the setbacks between the resort and adjacent buildings should total that amount. But they don’t. The setback on the north is 28.6 feet and on the south, 27.8 feet. That’s about half what it should be, he wrote.
Weiss is a resident of Treasure Island. He’s well known as the attorney for activists who want to fight what they consider overbearing development.
In the past, Weiss has sued St. Pete Beach over development issues. Now he’s representing members of Madeira Beach United, a group formed to fight two proposed developments on the Tom Stuart Causeway leading into that city from the mainland.