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Two judges side with Madeira Beach in development lawsuits

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Two judges have ruled against opponents of two proposed developments on Madeira Beach.

In one case, Judge Thomas H. Minkoff said the city did not violate state law when it passed three ordinances in 2014 that changed zoning rules and paved the way for the developments.

In the other case, Judge Cynthia Newton dismissed a lawsuit claiming that the city had wrongfully failed to grant a petition to take the proposed rezoning and land use changes to a voter referendum. Newton also denied their motion to set aside her order and reopen the case.

The lawsuits are two of four filed against Madeira Beach this year by residents opposed to the redevelopment of two parcels of land at the foot of the Tom Stuart Causeway. Developers proposed to build a hotel, condominiums, restaurant and parking garage. The causeway is the city’s sole direct link to the mainland and opponents argued the developments would overwhelm the area and destroy the fishing village ambience of Madeira Beach. One proposal has since been modified.

Before the developments could proceed, the commission had to approve zoning changes as well as a development agreement.

But before the final vote, opponents submitted petitions with more than 1,000 signatures asking that the proposed development go before the voters. However, city officials disallowed the petitions, saying the petitions fell short of requirements in the city charter. The commission voted to change the zoning and allow the developments to go ahead.

Some of the opponents – Samuel Baker, Barbara Ferrell, Linda Hein, Linda McCartor and Kristal Albertson – sued Madeira Beach asking that the judge determine the petitions to be sufficient and to send the issue to the voters for a referendum.

Newton dismissed the case.

In the other case, Hein and Jennifer McCoy Parker sued asking that the judge declare the three ordinances passed in 2014 to be invalid. Minkoff disagreed and closed the case.

Mayor Travis Palladeno said he was thrilled by the news.

“That is very large,” Palladeno said. “We’re two for two.”

The other two lawsuits are still in front of judges. One of them alleges violations of the Sunshine Law. The other asks that the rezonings be declared invalid for failing to comply with its own procedures.

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