INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A pending plan to build a condominium building on the Indian Rocks Beach - Indian Shore border is giving off the aroma of fish left too long to rot in the hot July sun.
This development comes hard on the heels of the revelation and reported here that the Indian Rocks Beach city lawyer is on the board of directors of a bank seeking to do business with the city.
Add to this the recognition in Largo by its city manager of a conflict of interest by that city's lawyer (the Largo and IRB city lawyers are law partners) but "he doesn't care" and one wonders about the extent of apparent corruption in Pinellas County municipalities.
Of key interest right now is the plan to intrude into an IRB beach access with a background of attempting to obscure the clarity of the border between Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.
It appears to be a complicated story, but like all of that nature, some progress can be made in understanding by breaking it down to its elements.
Begin with an agenda memorandum prepared for the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission meeting of November 28, 2006. It was submitted by Andy Salzman, IRB's city lawyer, and approved by the peripatetic Al Grieshaber, the city manager.
The memorandum refers to a letter dated November 7, 2006, from James A. Helinger, Jr., a Clearwater lawyer who represents A. Parker Willis and his wife who intend to build a condominium building at the border line between Indian Shores and Indian Rocks Beach.
". . . the city is being asked to enter a tri-party agreement with the Town of Indian Shores and A. Parker Willis. The agreement is purported to resolve the boundary line location between Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores," the memorandum says.
And it is the question of the boundary that is at the core of the story.
Helinger, in his November 7 letter addressed to IRB Mayor Bill Ockunzzi and in the proposed agreement submitted with the letter, several times refers to the "longstanding," "continuing" confusion over the boundary line between the two municipalities.
This is a canard and totally false. There is no such confusion. The boundary line between the two cities is distinct and clear and is defined both in the Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores charters.
Article I, Section 1.2 of the IRB Charter defines the city's boundaries and clearly states that the southern line of Whitehurst Street constitutes the southern boundary of IRB.
Likewise, Article II, Section 2.01 of the Indian Shores Charter defines the southern line of Whitehurst Street in Indian Rocks Beach as the city's northern border.
Part of the confusion apparently stems from acts taken by the Indian Shores Town Council on February 25, 1986 when it "vacated" the "South one-half of (Whitehurst Street)" as no longer needed "for a public purpose."
In other words, Indian Shores vacated or in effect conveyed land it did not own.
Interestingly, the mayor who signed the ordinances for Indian Shores was Daniel R. Giannini III who was disbarred in Florida the following year when the Florida Bar forced his resignation for a violation of the client trust fund rules.
Helinger's letter is part of the general aim, it appears, of the Willises to build at the site and in so doing impinge on what is actually IRB property.
In the agreement submitted to Ockunzzi with Helinger's November 7 letter references are made to the boundary - in the first "whereas" it says "confusion has arisen concerning the exact location of the boundary line between the Indian Rocks and Indian Shores."
The third "whereas" asserts that "historically, both municipalities treated the current centerline of Whitehurst Street as the boundary line between the cities." There is no independent evidence of that.
In the agreements provisions, the first such says "1. The parties stipulate that all of Whitehurst Street . . . will be deemed to be located in Indian Rocks . . ." In fact, all of Whitehurst Street, by operation of each city's charter, is located in Indian Rocks Beach.
The agreement is pending, as is the Willis's plans to build. It would seem unlikely that the IRB commission would enter into an agreement that is confusing to say the least and has no basis and remarkably is predicated on the claims of border line "confusion."
Even so, their plans have other problems. In the public hearing legal notice, the project is referred to as three floors over parking; while in its present form it is four floors over parking.
It would seem that the matter, which may come before the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission January 9, is misplaced. Other than making clear what its southern border is under the provisions of both cities' charters and making sure that no development project impinges on IRB territory, the commission has nothing to do, it would seem, with the whole mess.
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