INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The subject of this city's border with Indian Shores, immediately to the south, continues in confusion despite facts that make it clear there is no confusion, and one IRB commissioner wants to know why.
Commissioner Jose Coppen has riddled city hall with public records requests for all documents involving the Villa Rosa project that would impinge on IRB land on Whitehurst Street.
For some reason, Mayor Bill Ockunzzi persists in the myth that there is confusion or lack of clarity what the southern boundary of Indian Rocks Beach is.
The boundary of Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores is well established in the charters of each of the cities, to wit:
Indian Rocks Beach Charter, Section 1.2. Territorial limits of Indian Rocks Beach establishes the southern line of Whitehurst Street as the line.
Likewise, the Indian Shores Charter, Article II, says that the northern border of the city is the southern line of Whitehurst Street.
These facts were established at the January 9 meeting of the IRB City Commission and in addition, A. Parker Willis, the projected builder of Villa Rosa said in a 2003 "Attachment to Vacate by A. Parker Willis" that "It has been recently discovered that the Town of Indian Shores never owned any portion of the Whitehurst Street beach access, therefore, the deed to the 7.3 foot strip issued by Indian Shores, which I purchased in 1989 along with Lot 1, is invalid and worthless." The document is signed by Willis.
In the face of those hard facts, Ockunzzi, the day after his own commission decided on January 9 that the "confusion" idea was a dead issue, sent Mayor Jim Lawrence of Indian Shores an e-mail that included this language -
"I still believe the first and, perhaps, most important item is to determine if the IRB City Limit line is coterminous with the Willis property line and, if not, what is the relationship? In other words we need to define the extent of our 'jurisdiction?' Next, what is the relationship of the Willis' proposed building line relative to the IRB City Limit line and the Willis' property line? Neither of the above is clear to me. Any light you can shed on the answers to these questions would be helpful."
This has observers in Indian Rocks Beach asking why Ockunzzi is persisting in pursuing the "confusion" angle that was first brought to the commission at the November 28 meeting.
The official minutes of that meeting contain this language -
"6a. DISCUSSION of Whitehurst Beach Access (Mayor Ockunzzi).
Mayor Ockunzzi explained that he has prepared a draft of revised agreement, because he objected to the agreement drafted by Attorney James A. Helinger, Jr., regarding the fact that the Commission would admit to confusion about where the City's southern boundary line is and that got him started working on a draft. He stated that the City is not confused and knows exactly where the City's southern boundary is located."
By writing a revision of an agreement, it appears that Ockunzzi took over one of the duties of Andy Salzman, the city attorney.
IRB's Charter specifically says, in reference to the city attorney's duties, that he "shall prepare all instruments in writing in which the city is concerned and shall endorse on each his approval of the form and correctness thereof."
There is nothing in the IRB Charter that alludes to the mayor taking over the duties of the city attorney or acting in place of the city attorney.
As one observer pointed out, "Since Ockunzzi has met with the applicant and his attorney before and, further, due to his drafting of the proposed agreement . . . the participation of Ockunzzi in any meeting with Indian Shores attorneys and their Mayor to set the parameters of a new agreement, should not happen and poses a potential conflict."
An article in the Clearwater Gazette several weeks ago set out the complete and erroneous story of confusion over the IRB-Indian Shores boundary.
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