15th Bert Harris court complaint filed against Holmes Beach

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

by Kathy Prucnell for islander.org

Bert Harris times 15.

5501 Holmes LLC is the newest plaintiff to go to bat against the city of Holmes Beach for alleged violations of the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act.

Shawn and Jennifer Kaleta are the plaintiff’s corporate owners.

The mayor hadn’t been served as of press time, but the suit filed March 5 is the 15th against the city in the 12th Circuit Court.

The Bert Harris act was adopted by the state Legislature in 1995.

All of the lawsuits claim inordinate economic burdens under the Bert Harris law and seek to recover market value losses blamed on city ordinances.

The ordinances were enacted by Holmes Beach commissioners 2013-16 to stem a swelling tide of party-house problems.

The latest complaint alleges the city’s two-person-per-bedroom occupancy rule devalued an eight-bedroom vacation rental at 5501 Holmes Blvd., previously owned by 302 55th LLC.

Other suits against the city allege similar Bert Harris devaluation from short-term rental ordinances, including restrictions to building footprints, living area, setbacks, parking and pools.

The complaint states the city rules reduced occupancy from 20 to 16 for the duplex, which was built and furnished in 2015 and, in turn, reduced the owners’ return from their investment.

“At that time, many of the homes surrounding the land and throughout the city were being utilized as short-term rentals and renting to an unregulated number of guests,” the complaint states.

Before filing suit, the Bert Harris plaintiff must file a claim with the governmental entity, which allegedly acted to devalue its property. The claim must be supported by an appraisal.

Plaintiff 5501 Holmes LLC bases its suit on a $670,000 initial claim and appraisal filed with the city May 1, 2017, as “302 55th LLC.” The plaintiff alleges it took title from 302 55th LLC in February 2017.

Attorney for the plaintiff, Aaron Thomas of the Najmy Thompson law firm of Bradenton, explained the timing discrepancy as a matter of the transaction not being “of record.” He also said the 302 55th LLC, initially held title to two homes but separated into two LLCs after the transfer.

As part of the Bert Harris statute, the governmental entity — the city of Holmes Beach — is required to respond to the initial claims with a settlement offer, but the response can be no change in the restrictions.

Holmes Beach has responded with no-change offers to each of the 50-plus claims it’s received.

The latest filing brings the total Bert Harris-Holmes Beach claims in litigation to $6,010,000.

As of press time, there are more than 35 Holmes Beach claims that may mature into lawsuits.

The city began receiving the claims, numbering more than 50, in March 2016. In January 2017, the first suit was filed in 12th Circuit Court.

You can now conveniently pay your bill online

Pay Now