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Longboat Key Thursday, Sep. 5, 2019 2 weeks ago

Both sides list potential witnesses in Colony lawsuit

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Longboat Key leaders could possibly be called upon for testimony.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

Town leaders, present and past, are on Unicorp National Development Inc.'s witness list in phase 2 of its legal proceeding to gain control of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property for its development plans. The Orlando company proposed to build a luxury hotel and condominium project on the land, made easier if it can gain another favorable ruling in court, in the spring of 2020.

Unicorp, which filed suit in early 2018 to disband the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort's condo association, included a who’s who list of town and county leaders and employees in its preliminary fact and expert witness lists. Among them:

  • Chuck Whittall, Unicorp CEO;
  • Maggie Mooney, Longboat Key town attorney;
  • Allen Parsons, Longboat Key director of planning, zoning and building;
  • Alaina Ray, former planning director for Longboat Key;
  • Six of the sitting seven town commissioners, excluding Mike Haycock.
  • Former Commissioner Jim Brown;
  • Jay Yablon, Colony Beach & Tennis Association president;
  • Tom Harmer, Longboat Key town manager, and;
  • Stan Dinwoodie, Longboat Key building official.

The court documents indicate summaries of anticipated areas of expertise for each of the witnesses.

Whittall, Mooney, Ray, the town commissioners, Yablon and Harmer are expected to speak on the “Inability to redevelop or rebuild the Colony without the approval and consent of the Recreational Property’s owner; Indivisibility of the Colony Property and the favored remedy upon termination as viewed by the Town for the benefit of the Public; Matters related to the redevelopment of the Colony property; and Facts related to the parties’ affirmative defenses and replies to same.”

Parsons is expected to testify about this and about the “Status of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property” as well as “All matters related to the town resolutions and density related issues.”

Dinwoodie’s testimony will consist of the aforementioned components in addition to “Issues raised and the facts included in the notices of intent to demolish the structures at the former Colony Beach & Tennis Club Resort.” 

Unicorp’s witness list extends beyond this group. Expert witnesses will discuss "the historical condition of the (now demolished) structures on the condominium-owned portions of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Club Resort (the “Condominium Parcel”),” “the options for the sale and disposition of the Condominium Parcel,” “that the Condominium Parcel is not divisible” and “facts related to density” and “land use.”

One of the condo unit owners fighting Unicorp's plan, Yeno Mon, Inc., lists property appraisers as expert witnesses, according to court documents. Colony Beach & Tennis Club Association, Inc., lists Yablon, the Records Custodian for the town of Longboat Key, Dinwoodie, Parsons and “All former and current Town of Longboat Key officials with relevant knowledge regarding the facts in this matter,” among other witnesses.

In July,  a Circuit Court judge cleared a path to terminate the condominium association of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. The finale of all this legal maneuvering could come in April of 2020, when the judge will consider at least three possible options:

  • Setting a price per unit with three or four different classes of units. Whittall would buy those units;
  • The property could be carved up between those who claim responsibility for it, and;
  • A public auction for the property in which anyone could bid.

Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

See All Articles by Sten

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