Beruff attorneys will co-defend Aqua lawsuit

Aqua lawsuit
Developer Carlos Beruff and his attorney Ed Vogler have joined Manatee County in defense of the lawsuit filed earlier this month. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON – Aqua by the Bay developer Carlos Beruff has successfully intervened in a lawsuit against Manatee County that challenges the county commission’s recent approval of his development plans.

Beruff’s attorney, Ed Vogler, will join the Manatee County Attorney’s office in the defense of the lawsuit.

Judge Lon Arend granted the motion to intervene on Nov. 13, recusing himself from the case two days later. Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. was assigned the case, which will be heard in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Bradenton.

On Nov. 2, attorney Ralf Brookes filed the lawsuit on behalf of the following petitioners: Suncoast Waterkeeper and its director, Joe McClash; Cortez charter captain Kathe Fannon and her daughter, Katie Scarlett Tupin; Longboat Key resident Larry Grossman and Legends Bay residents Beverly Hill, Arlene Dukaukas and Lenka Sukova. The lawsuit named Manatee County as the respondent.

The petitioners are seeking a court order that would either quash the development approval or remand it back to county commissioners for further review. The request is based on the grounds that county commissioners failed to provide procedural due process regarding public input at the Oct. 3 commission meeting at which the general development plan and rezoning requests were approved. The petitioners’ request is also based on the grounds that the commission and the county failed to apply the correct law and comply with the essential requirements of law contained in the Manatee County Land Development Code (LDC), and the commission’s approval is not supported by competent substantial evidence of compliance with all LDC requirements.

“Land owner disputes each issue of material fact and legal conclusion raised by the petitioners. Land owner requests entry of an order which grants leave to intervene in the case as a full party respondent with the right to plead as to all matters without being subordinate to the main action,” says the motion to intervene that Vogler field on Nov. 8.

The approved development plans call for 16 95-foot tall condominium buildings and a yet-to-be determined number of buildings between 36 and 75 feet tall. Slated for construction between El Conquistador Parkway and Sarasota Bay in Manatee County, the project is approved for a total of 2,894 residential units and 78,000 square feet of commercial space. The approved plans include a man-made Crystal Lagoon, and reference private docks.

Beruff’s attorneys and the County Attorney’s Office have not yet filed their legal responses to the petitioners’ complaint. As of Monday, Nov. 20, no court dates had been scheduled.