BRADENTON -- Bradenton attorney Ed Vogler is no stranger to legal maneuvering against the city of Bradenton, representing key land developers in Manatee County. However, he is now joining the city in defending a lawsuit filed after the city council voted to relocate Glazier-Gates Park to make room for a rental housing development.
According to court records, Vogler on Nov. 19 filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit against the city, which was filed Nov. 4 by Stone Soup Community Unity. Attorney Ralf Brookes argues the city violated its comprehensive plan in approving a special area plan that allows for the park's relocation from the 1000 block of Manatee Avenue East to the north along Riverside Drive East as part of a land swap to make room for the 521-unit Villages at Riverwalk
Vogler's clients, Bradenton Land Group LLC and O'Reo Farms Two LLC, consisting of Atlanta-based developer Hatfield Development Co. and local contractor NDC Construction, were not named in the lawsuit, but are part the Villages at Riverwalk development team.
Vogler's motion to intervene brings them into the legal fray as a defendant.
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According to Bradenton City Attorney Bill Lisch, Vogler's group "is a party with a particular interest in this."
Lisch said it's not technically a joint defense effort, "but yes, it is basically because we both have the same interest."
Only the city of Bradenton is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The city has not filed a response because Lisch said as of Monday, the city has yet to be served.
"We haven't even been served yet, so I can't say how we are going to handle this," he said.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff has up to 90 days to serve legal notice to the defendant. Vogler, who was unavailable for comment Monday, cites in his motion to intervene that the "land owners dispute each issue of material fact and legal conclusion raised by the plaintiffs in their complaint."
Vogler followed up Nov. 24 with arguments to counter the complaint, stating the plaintiffs "do not have standing to bring this action."
The development agreement was controversial from the start, beginning with the city hastily adding it to a November 2014 city council meeting agenda and then voting to take action.
The opposition grew from there with the majority targeting the Glaizer-Gates relocation and destruction of century old oak trees.
The $75 million Villages at Riverwalk development has received less opposition, with those opposed asking the developer to build on the land it already owns.
That land features some 26 acres of property that was part of the now-defunct Riviera Southshore project, which was approved for nine-story condominiums about 10 years ago. It went bankrupt during the Great Recession. Vogler was the attorney for that project and his new team purchased the property out of foreclosure earlier this year.
As part of the development agreement approved last month, the city will require the developer to pay for the new Glazier-Gates Park construction, as well as pay $500,000 for improvements at the nearby Mineral Springs Park.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.