It’s not every day that a developer loses a multimillion-dollar U.S. Supreme Court decision, and a nonprofit Bay area speaker series, Cafe con Tampa, wants residents to hear about it.
In 2013, the Pinellas County Commission made a controversial decision to put the kibosh on a 246-unit, three-story luxury apartment complex with 25,000 square feet of office space on a 35-acre site in Safety Harbor. Dozens of residents had already spoken up against the development, but the Safety Harbor City Commission already approved a zoning change from industrial to residential in February 2013. The developer, Richman Group of Florida, appealed the county commission's vote, and an administrative judge sided with the developer.
Pinellas rejected the rezoning request again in 2014. In 2016, a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge said that the county commissioners skirted county policy to appease concerned Safety Harbor residents and ruled that the county owed Richman $16.5 million in damages.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned that decision in 2017, adding that "the trial court erred in concluding that the county had no rational basis to deny the proposed amendment."
The state supreme court would not hear Richman’s appear, and in March the U.S. Supreme Court also said that it would not hear the petition from Richman.
Pinellas County attorney Jewel White was in the center of a lot of that action, and on Friday, May 17 she’ll be joined by Attorney Ron Weaver at Oxford Exchange in Tampa where a discussion about the case will shed light on the rights of planners and the role neighborhood citizens play in the development process.
A breakfast buffet is included with the $12 admission. Student or community organizers who need financial assistance to attend are encouraged to contact Cafe con Tampa. The talk goes from 8-9:30 a.m.More information on the event is available on Facebook.