Tree house case back in court

Tree house case back in court
The fate of the beachfront tree house in Holmes Beach is still to be determined by Manatee County courts. - File Photo | Sun

BRADENTON – The beachfront tree house at Angelinos Sea Lodge is back in the city of Holmes Beach’s crosshairs as the case goes back to Manatee County Circuit Court to be heard by Judge Edward Nicholas.

Both sides met in chambers April 29 to discuss the city’s motion for summary judgment and tree house owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen’s complaint for declaratory judgment and a more definitive statement from the city.

The attorney for the owners, David Levin, told Nicholas that the complaint for declaratory judgment was filed on behalf of his clients in 2013 and was never heard. Now that the complaint is being heard, he asked for the opportunity to update the complaint to include all of the activity on the case in the past six years. Attorney Jim Dye, representing the city, did not object to the request and commended Levin for bringing the issue up before the court. Nicholas granted the request, giving Levin 20 days to submit the amended motion and the city 20 days after that to respond before the complaint is heard by the court.

Also to be heard with that motion is the city’s motion for summary judgment. The city’s motion, submitted by Dye, requests that the court rule in favor of the city without further delay, requiring Tran and Hazen to not only remove the tree house from its Australian pine and wooden pole supported perch on the beach but to also pay the mounting code enforcement violation fines, which accrue daily for as long as the tree house remains aloft, along with other assessed fines and attorney fees.

The code enforcement fines alone amount to over $65,000. If granted, the motion would also allow the city to forcibly remove the tree house if the owners refused to take down the structure.

Levin said the owners’ complaint for declaratory judgment was filed prior to the code enforcement hearing in 2013.

Nicholas said that he doesn’t believe it matters in what order the two cases are heard. He said that if the motion for summary judgment was heard first and he ruled in favor of the city that he would stay the ruling until the motion for dismissal could be heard.

A date to hear both motions is planned to be scheduled for some time in the summer.

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