Having defeated the WHETSTONE family's frivolous lawsuit against the City of St. Augustine, the City must now petition for an award of attorney fees and costs -- more than $216,000 -- against the WHETSTONE FAMILY. This faux lawsuit was initiated by the late louche lawyer GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE, erstwhile ROGERS TOWERS partner, who represented landowners in courts and City Halls and County Commissions. The lawsuit attempted to lay claim to the City's bottomlands. St. Augustine is one of only two cities in Florida with legal title to the land beneath its waters, a claim of title dating back to Spanish colonial times. Judge Howard Maltz rejected the WHETSTONE's claim, which was supported by a dubious affidavit of PAUL M. WEAVER, III, the dodgy Vice Chair of St. Augustine's Historic Architectural Review Board, one of two HARB members hired by DOW PUD/CORDOVA INN developer DAVID BARTON CORNEAL -- a blatant conflict of interest.
City spent more than $200K defending Whetstone litigation
Posted: April 28, 2016 - 10:56pm | Updated: April 29, 2016 - 5:15am
By SHELDON GARDNER
A lawsuit filed against St. Augustine involving the Whetstone family will go no further, but the case has cost the city heavily over the years.
The time frame has lapsed for an appeal to be filed in the case, which stems from a city board’s denial of a dock at a Whetstone property.
The case went to the 5th District Court of Appeals, which sided with the city saying that the Whetstones didn’t own submerged land over which the dock would be placed.
City Attorney Isabelle Lopez told the City Commission recently that the deadline for an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court has lapsed.
“And the bill you had on today’s consent agenda is your final invoice from the Gunster firm,” Lopez told the commission.
That final bill was more than $5,226, according to an email from the city. City officials estimated total legal costs at more than $216,000.
Those bills were paid through the city’s general fund reserves, said Mark Litzinger, director of the city’s financial services department.
The matter stemmed from a 2011 permit application for the Whetstones to build a 270-foot dock near the Bayfront Inn, which was denied.
The Whetstones have said that the property they own includes “the seawall and the river bottom parallel to Lot 4’s northern and southern lines, out to the mean low water line of the river.”
But the Court of Appeals — upholding a previous ruling by Circuit Court Judge Howard Maltz — affirmed that the Whetstones don’t own the submerged land.
Henry Whetstone, who is named in the case, pointed to growing property rights issues.
“The city is getting more lawsuits all the time. They are denying personal property rights,” he said.
He added later that, “This is a real serious problem with the city and the regulations that they have. They just do not recognize the individual anymore. It’s all designed for the group thinking of bigger government.”
However, Lopez said the city is actually defending its property rights.
She said the city defends its submerged lands “in large part because of our ability to maintain that claim [to submerged lands] gives us additional rights [to] preserve the public good and the public welfare that we wouldn’t have directly if we weren’t the property owner.”
sponger2 04/29/16 - 01:14 pm 30Money well spent...
It's about time Hank, Virginia, her wife Bruce, and the rest of the gang realize it is no longer "their town".