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IPOC wins standing argument

Ruling allows IPOC to argue appeal in court.

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

The Islandside Property Owners Coalition gained a court victory Friday with Circuit Court Judge Charles Roberts’ ruling that the IPOC organization has the legal right and authority to ask a judge to overturn the town’s development order.

Roberts went point by point through the Key Club’s arguments and cited the legal underpinnings of his rulings.

The Key Club, through Attorney Jim Syprett, argued that IPOC fails the fundamental legal criteria to enter a courtroom and make a claim. He said the organization lacks standing in that it’s essentially a shell company created solely to attack the redevelopment plan while shielding its members from any liability. He elaborated that the standing must meet the Renard threshold and one of the fundamentals is having suffered special damages or being injured by the very decision you are challenging.

And since IPOC owns no assets or property, “It cannot offer evidence that it suffered any damages,” said Syprett.

 

The ruling

In the ruling the judge reflected the Longboat Key Club’s arguments that IPOC does not have legal standing and then gave his final decision in two sentences at the end. Judge Roberts wrote:

“Key Club may not raise these arguments regarding standing for the first time on appeal because the record provided reflects that these arguments were not raised during the quasi-judicial proceedings below.”

“…As to Sanctuary and L’Ambiance, Key Club advances several arguments in support of the Motion to Dismiss. First, Key Club asserts that Sanctuary and L’Ambiance did not get the approval of 75 percent of the voting interests of the unit owners before filing the instant lawsuit, as is required by their respective Declarations of Condominium. The Declarations of Condominium are outside the record, and therefore will not be considered by the court.”

“Key Club next argues that Sanctuary and L’Ambiance, as condominium associations, do not have the power under Chapter 718, Florida Statutes to create and join IPOC, a LLC, created under Chapter 608, Florida Statutes. Both Associations are Florida non-profit corporations. Sections 617.0302(12) and (15), Florida Statutes authorize a non-profit to create and hold interests in a limited liability company.”

“Key Club next argues that and that the formation of IPOC is void as against public policy. Section 718.111, Florida Statutes, enumerates certain powers of condominium associations. Those powers include the ability to sue and be sued. See Section 718.111(3), Florida Statutes. Additionally, Section 617.0302, Florida Statutes, governing corporate powers of non-profit corporations, permits non-profit corporations to sue and be sued. See Section 617.0302(2), Florida Statutes.”

“Key Club next argues that Sanctuary and L’Ambiance were not granted third party status at the quasi-judicial proceedings below. The Court has reviewed the existing Appendix and is satisfied that evidence was presented supporting the Associations’ claim that they meet the Renard Standing test. See Battaglia Fruit Co. v. The City of Maitland, 520 So. 2d 940 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988).”

“Therefore, it is hereby ordered and adjudged that the Respondent Key Club’s Motion to Dismiss is Denied. Done and ordered in Chambers, in Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida on this 26th Day of Oct. 2011.”

 

The debate

This debate over standing arose because of a motion made by the Key Club prior to oral arguments on the merits of IPOC’s request for Writ of Certiorari.

The process normally is for the judge to rule based solely on the evidence and testimony in the record. And it is in essence a court determination based on the entire record and testimony of the Key Club hearing. It is IPOC’s appeal to a judge that the Town Commission misapplied and misinterpreted its rules and regulations when it granted the Key Club development order.

If IPOC is successful in its appeal and the development order is overturned, it would not mean the end of the Islandside redevelopment.

Many of the very zoning and land use regulations that IPOC argues were not followed in the town’s approval have since been amended, and the Key Club could reapply under the new codes, which are now more conforming to the application.

If the matter does go back before the Town Commission, IPOC would have the ability to re-galvanize and make its argument again that the town should not allow what it sees as an overly intensive redevelopment.

But the language within the Comprehensive Plan and zoning code has been strengthened to make clear that the town has the authority to grant the development order, which would make IPOC challenges in the future that much more difficult.

 

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2 Responses for “IPOC wins standing argument”

  1. Gene Jaleski says:

    Once again our town attorney has been wrong about the Key Club application process. Initially he assured us that he and Ms. Simpson would have everything tidied-up in a few weeks. That was a couple of years ago. Then he assured us that the current pro-developer commission would make short work of the codes and comp plan and that the KC application would be a fait accomplis in no time. That was 18 months ago. Then our meany Governor passed a law about referendums that made the town attorney’s decision to skip my initial proposed comp plan review the wrong choice to have made. Now IPOC has prevailed again even though the town attorney told me a week ago that IPOC was toast.

    I am reminded of a movie about Douglas Corrigan.

    Perhaps our town needs to go in a different direction.

  2. Gene Jaleski says:

    As a member of the commission that first heard the Key Club proposal, I requested that we stop, look into the comp plan and then return to the application process. The makeup of the commission was more balanced in those days. Welly appears to have been unwilling to risk a comp plan review with that commission, so Ms. Stroud and Mr. Perssons advised that it was OK for the commission to proceed. Stroud and Perssons also said that the Key Club application would have to be processed using the existing comp plan and codes, or the Key Club would have to resubmit their application under any new or changed town codes and comp plan amendments.

    If the IPOC litigation is successful then the commission will not have to sit through the same lawyer blah-blah-blah all over again. Eventually if there is an application resubmission, this time the voters may be a little more aware that they are being manipulated by Welly and our pro-developer commission. After all there is no free lunch and now the community is seeing a resurgence of building and re-building, a new Publix and greatly reduced real estate inventories. The scare tactics used by Welly the first time may not fly this time.

    Our community must find an intelligent way to change with the times without screwing property owners for the benefit of the developers. Other communities do it, why can’t we?

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