ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Following a 10 News investigation into a recently-filed state lawsuit that threatens waterfront property owners across Florida, State Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, spent the day in Tallahassee Tuesday trying to derail the suit.
Brandes spoke with members of Governor Rick Scott's staff about the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP's) lawsuit that aims to recapture state land that has been privately owned, deeded, bought, and sold for the last 130 years.
The defendants in the suit are Rick and Kelly Ware, St. Petersburg residents who live in Old Northeast, but own a dock over Coffee Pot Bayou on Snell Isle.
Brandes' office has been in touch with Ware for the better part of a year as the DEP has taken aim at his dock -- one of 83 along the bayou. But with the lawsuit's filing earlier this month, the senator said he couldn't just sit and watch.
"This is an incredibly important issue to many of the constituents here in our community," Brandes said. "I am ready to pursue any legislative remedy to protect property rights if necessary."
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster says a cloud on one property's title would be a cloud on the titles of all waterfront properties in the city. He promisedswift intervention during a live interview on 10 News Friday.
The city and county wouldn't just lose millions of dollars ofvalue from their tax rolls -- St. Pete could also potentially lose any property it owns over submerged lands, including a dozen docks and even the pier.
Neither the DEP nor staffers for Attorney General Pam Bondi, who filed the suit, indicated theywould comment on pending litigation.