CLEARWATER - The City of Clearwater has initiated a lawsuit and the defendants, among others, are "the Taxpayers, Property Owners, and Citizens of the City of Clearwater, including non-residents owning property or subject to taxation therein."
Filed in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District in Pinellas County on Friday, June 24, Civil Action number 05004315-CI-021 is entitled "Complaint For Validation." According to Clearwater's Assistant City Attorney Paul Hull, the purpose of the complaint is to get the court to "validate" the issuance of $15 million Improvement Revenue Bonds, whose proceeds are to fund the City's portion of Beach Walk construction. The validation is needed to protect the future bondholders from the risk of default should the City of Clearwater later be found to be without the authority to issue the bonds.
Also named as defendants in the action were the State of Florida, Beachwalk Resort, LLC, the developer of the planned Hyatt hotel on Clearwater Beach, and Anne Garris and Suzanne Boschen. Garris and Boschen filed a class action lawsuit against the City in April, alleging that certain terms of the City's agreement with the Hyatt developers were in violation of the City Charter.
But why did the City sue its citizens? It was simply following a bond validation process established in Chapter 75 of the Florida Statutes. Chapter 75 reads in part, "a complaint shall be filed ... against the state and the taxpayers, property owners, and citizens of the county, municipality or district, including nonresidents owning property or subject to taxation therein." Hull said that the Chapter 75 process recognizes that anyone can object to the bond issue for any reason; the defendants include essentially everyone with an interest in the matter.
Hull claimed, "There is no redress being sought against any taxpayer or citizen, including Boschen and Garris. They are named because they have expressed a special interest in it." He also said that "there's no need for anyone to respond in writing, but if they want to, they can."
If you, as a defendant in the City's complaint, wish to preserve your rights in this matter, including the ability to comment during the bench trial, you must provide a written response to the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Clearwater Courthouse, 315 Court Street, Clearwater, Florida 33756. Your response must include the case number, 05-004315-CI-21, and the names of the parties: The City of Clearwater v The State of Florida, and the Taxpayers, Property Owners and Citizens of the City of Clearwater, Florida, Anne Garris, Suzanne Boschen, Beachwalk Resort, LLC and Crystal Beach Capital, LLC.
A court date has not yet been set. Hull said that a legal notice would be advertised when the hearing date is established.
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