The State of Florida has filed suit against a local property owner, claiming his land, a 1,000-square-foot dock on the edge of Coffee Pot Bayou -- bought and sold in accordance with local laws since 1883 -- has actually belonged to the state since 1845.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman has made it clear he wants to change the city's direction on a number of issues. However, St. Pete's recent intervention in a lawsuit against the state is not one of them.
Kriseman tells 10 News he plans to continue the city's fight against a state land-grab that could affect hundreds of property owners as well as the city's tax rolls.
The 10 News Investigators first reported on Board of Trustees of the...State of Florida v. Richard & Kelly Ware in July. The case is over ownership of submerged land in Coffee Pot Bayou.
The trustees - Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet - are seeking to re-claim properties privately-deeded and publicly-taxed for 130 years. But if the state is able to take back the Ware's property, they could re-claim other properties across the state and cloud the titles of 82 other dock-owners on Coffee Pot Bayou. The city also owns a handful of properties that could be re-claimed.
Mayor Bill Foster worked with the city's legal staff to initiate the intervention in the lawsuit on behalf of the Wares. A judge still needs to approve the filing, but the city maintains a right because "anyone claiming an interest in pending litigation may at any time be permitted to assert a right by intervention."
Both Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi have repeatedly declined comment on why the state was suing to re-claim the property.
11/25/13 - City of St. Pete will intervene in lawsuit
8/16/13 - Gov. Scott's answers don't match questions on lawsuit
8/14/13 - Gov. Scott, AG Bondi avoiding controversial questions on suit
8/6/13 - Gov. Scott, Cabinet members answer questions on Coffee Pot Bayou lawsuit
7/31/13 - State Senator tries to get action on Coffee Pot Bayou suit
7/28/13 - St. Petersburg dock owner sued by state for his land
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