City attorney recommends termination of Lido Pavilion plan for $206K

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The plan by the owners of the Daiquiri Deck to develop the Lido Pool and Pavilion into a 250-seat restaurant, tiki bar and private cabanas will come to an end on Feb. 19 if the Sarasota City Commission agrees with its attorney.

In January the applicants, following months of ever-increasing opposition from residents and the business community’ told the City Commission that it wished to withdraw its plan if the City would agree to pay for its “out-of-pocket” expenses.

Since then the applicants, Troy Syprett and Gavin Meshad, under the entity Lido Beach Redevelopment, LLC, have gone back and forth with City Attorney Robert Fournier to arrive at a total request of $206, 224 as a request to withdraw its plan and end the lease that the City approved last Spring.

Their request came as a surprise to the packed City Commission chambers last month, because on the agenda was the final hurdle to allow the plan to proceed. That hurdle was an application for a Major Conditional Use permit that hinged on the commission voting in its favor, and finding that the plan was compatible with neighboring uses.

Also at the meeting last month, an attorney for Mark Walsh, who owns the Lido Beach Resort and other properties on Lido Key, said that Walsh would donate $175,000 if the City agreed to terminate the plan and instead built or renovated the structure in a manner that had community support and was compatible with the neighborhood and was not leased to a private entity.

Attorney Fournier officially recommends approval of what will be considered and likely voted on at the Feb. 19 City Commission meeting. His recommendation is to approve the Proposed Lease Cancelation and Termination Agreement. Fournier gave numerous reasons for his recommendation including what he says is a virtual certainty that if the application for the pavilion plan moves forward, “The City will end up spending far in excess of the amount recommended for reimbursement before the decision of the City Commission becomes final.”

Fournier goes on to say that both the City staff and the Lido Beach Pool Committee, “Should accept some share of responsibility for the sequence of events.”

Fournier says that the applicant had done what the City had requested throughout the process and that the applicant had reduced the scope of development as requested. He also says that if the hearing on the application went forward, the potential exists for at least four separate lawsuits because of the interested parties.

Another issue favoring the City paying the money to make the lease and redevelopment plan go away, says Fournier, is the fact that the Planning Board made a recommendation/finding that the application was not consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. He said these would likely be ripe for appeal and would require expert testimony and costly litigation.

The opposition to the plan also questioned whether the redevelopment proposal met Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) requirements. That would be another source of a likely challenge that could even occur if a building permit was issued.

Another possible litigation action could be a challenge to the validity of the lease agreement.

It is this likely briar patch of potential litigation as well as the strength of the opposition coupled with the value of the lease that lead Fournier to be of the opinion that the cost to the City would be greater over time than reimbursing the applicant’s their stated expenses.

Fournier also cites the offer by Walsh through his entity ‘Logan Acquisitions’ as constructive in that some portion of the reimbursement made to Lido Beach Redevelopment, LLC would be offset.

Another reason Fournier believes the City Commission should reimburse the Daiquiri Deck duo, is that his research shows that the Lido Beach Pool Committee, which was formed out of the Lido Key Residents Association, years ago presented the City Commission materials referencing the desire for a tiki bar, a small performance stage and a comprehensive marketing plan for increased visibility.

Fournier says if that presentation was the catalyst for the City to undertake its initial process that attracted the proposal from the Daiquiri Deck owners, there’s some argument that could be made that the staff and plan were consistent with what the community expressed it wanted.

On the other hand, says Fournier in a memorandum to the City Commission dated Feb. 6, he could not find anything in any early discussions asking for a restaurant or expansion of that use.

Fournier asks rhetorically if disagreement between the City and residents impeded negotiations between the City and Lido Beach Redevelopment. All of these concerns and questions compel Fournier to urge the City Commission to approve paying what he says are reasonable expenses. The largest itemized expense is the legal fees charged to the Lido Beach Redevelopment by Sarasota attorneys Icaard, Merrill, Cullis & Timm. Those fees total more than $73,000. The other sizable out-of-pocket expense requested is about $67,000 in architecture and landscape architecture costs.

At the meeting on Feb. 19, the issue will be discussed and if agreed upon, the Lease Cancelation and Termination Agreement will be voted on with a simple majority needed for its approval.

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