City argues citizens have no standing to challenge Bruce Beach

January 4, 2018

In December, the City of Pensacola filed in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by A&J Mugs owner Dan Lindemann and Pensacola resident Jerry Holtzworth that challenged the validity of the lease agreement between the City and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”) for Bruce Beach in downtown Pensacola.

The attorneys for GrayRobinson PA, the Orlando-based firm hired by Mayor Hayward, wrote in their summary:

“Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the validity of the lease agreement between the City and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”) as they have not suffered any special injury that is different from the injuries to other citizens. Even if Plaintiffs had standing, they have failed to articulate sufficient grounds to invalidate the lease. Plaintiffsinability to state a claim requires dismissal of both claims with prejudice.”

Challenging the standing of the plaintiffs is a standard defense used by the City.

GrayRobinson PA argued that Lindemann and Holtzworth failed to allege how the lack of notice, the failure of the CRA to execute the lease, and the failure to commence construction have caused a special injury to them that is different from the injuries to other citizens.

The claim that their property lies within the same Redevelopment Area as Bruce Beach is not sufficient to confer standing on them, according to the motion filed.

The attorneys also argued that the City was not required to give public notice before executing the lease because the notice requirements in the Florida Statutes do not apply to properties acquired before the creation of a community redevelopment area.

The lease does have a termination clause if FWC did not commence construction by May 2017. However, only the City can enforce it, according to the mayor’s attorneys.

“Plaintiffs are not parties to the lease, and do not have any right to enforce the lease terms. While the City may have certain remedies available to it, nothing in the lease requires the City to enforce it or otherwise seek to compel the FWC to forfeit its rights and property interests under the lease. Thus, the lease is still valid and enforceable…”

Read City’s Motion to Dismiss.

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1 Comment

  • Reply CJ Lewis January 4, 2018 at 9:15 am

    What if a City Council member joined the lawsuit as a new plaintiff?

    The City Council should ignore the political advice of Mayor Hayward’s attorney City Attorney Bowling and during its next meeting vote to confirm that FWC failed to commence construction prior to May 12, 2017 and the lease is void and all subsequent actions by the city are void.

    If the people lose this one, the case is made for abolishing the CRA. Apparently, it is as much a paper tiger as the city’s Enterprise Zone that was run as a fraud for many years before being abolished by the state. The City Council can abolish the CRA at any time and voters can exercise their referendum powers to adopt an ordinance doing the same.

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