MANATEE -- A landowner and his prospective developer have filed an amended complaint in a suit alleging that the Manatee County Commission’s decision last summer in a land-use case constituted a violation of due process.
The complaint argues that the commission’s vote to rescind its earlier approval of an amendment allowing greater density at the Robinson Farms’ housing project site was inconsistent with state law.
“This is a continuation of our same position that, when you’re two years into a process, the county is not allowed to withdraw,” said Edward Vogler II, representing plaintiffs Bill Robinson, owner of Robinson Farms, Inc., and John Neal, the developer.
The suit asked the court to declare the rescinded ordinance void, and sought damages, attorney’s fees and court costs, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs also asked for court jurisdiction to make additional orders and judgments, and requested that the action remain pending before the Florida Administration Commission, comprised of Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members.
“I had a right to rely on the vote and the decision they made in my favor at the county commission, because I acted on it,” said Neal Tuesday, referring to the county commission decision in his favor.
County attorney Tedd Williams, Jr., declined comment, saying he had not yet seen the complaint.
The case originated when county commissioners voted in favor of changes to the county comprehensive plan that would have increased the density per acre on part of the site. Neighbors Katie Pierola and Greg Geraldson challenged the decision, and several legal steps later, Neal appealed. In August, Manatee County commissioners voted 5-2 to rescind the ordinance allowing greater density, and their attorneys unsuccessfully sought dismissal of the case earlier this month before the Administration Commission. The Administration Commission suspended action for 20 days in order to give Neal a chance to file suit, according to attorneys in the case.
Neal wants to build 106 homes on about 50 acres of property located between Ninth and 17th avenues northwest.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.