Opponents of two proposed developments on Madeira Beach filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a judge to declare invalid commission votes to rezone the property.
The lawsuit is the fourth filed in the ongoing battle between the city and opponents of the developments. Ethics complaints have also been lodged with the state and with professional organizations over allegations of improper conduct by city officials.
This latest lawsuit centers on an effort by members of Madeira Beach United to stop the developments. Madeira Beach United is a grassroots organization formed in part to fight the proposals. City officials rejected the efforts and went ahead with the vote.
The battle that has roiled this city for months focuses on two proposed developments at the foot of the Tom Stuart Causeway Bridge, the only direct link the city has with the mainland. The two developments – the Madeira Beach Town Center and the Holiday Isle Marina – would have buildings as high as 11 stories. A restaurant, hotel, condominiums, marina and parking garage are also on the drawing boards.
Opponents say the developments are too much for those two pieces of land. They object to the height of the buildings and the density, saying they will bring too much traffic to the area and destroy the fishing village ambiance of Madeira Beach.
Proponents say the concerns are overblown; that the traffic will be less than opponents believe and the buildings are no higher than elsewhere in the city.
Opponents are not convinced and, before the final vote, collected petitions with more than 1,000 signatures asking that the issue go before the voters. Had the city deemed the petitions valid, the final vote would have had to be put off until after the election. However, city attorney Tom Trask said the petitions fell short of charter requirements. The votes went ahead, and the zoning was changed, which cleared the way for the developments to be built.
“The rejection of the Petitions and the affidavits is simply evidence of the bad faith of the city and the commissioners,” the lawsuit says.
It is asking that the judge declare the petitions complied with the city charter and to force Madeira Beach to submit the issue to the voters. And, it is asking the court to determine “that the rezoning of the Holiday Isle and Town Center developments are invalid and void ab initio” and that the rezonings be prevented from taking effect.
Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno could not be reached for comment.