The city of Port St. Joe and its attorney of record for more than five decades decided to go their separate ways as the year ends and the city’s new attorney has a busy docket.
Start to end in 2016, Port St. Joe city commissioners were bogged down in contentious issues that have, or may still, lead to the courtroom.
Early in the year the issue was a structure, modular or mobile depending on your perspective, approved by the city building department as a residence on Stone Drive, in the residential Ward Ridge area.
Commissioners put a stop-work order on the home, however, when neighbors protested, and tried to reach resolution with the owner on alternative sites.
The structure, in pieces, sat for months until it was suddenly moved; while the homeowner continues to press a claim in the hundreds of thousands, though not yet by formal litigation by year-end.
The end of the year, though, did bring litigation from a couple seeking to overturn the issuance of a business license for a funeral home in a residential neighborhood, in violation of city land development regulations.
A circuit court judge ordered the city to show cause why he should not quash commissioners’ decision to issue the license, which they did without the required evidence the funeral home would not impact neighboring property values.
And the city has been put on notice by the father of a man who died in fatal police-station shooting that a wrongful death lawsuit will be filed stemming from that incident.
In the background, there was a settlement of a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by the officer involved in the police-station shooting; a $600,000 worker’s compensation claim was later awarded the officer, a decision in which the city had no say.
All of this seems destined to negatively impact insurance rates taxpayers will foot next year from the Florida League of Cities, which handles the city’s property, liability and worker’s compensation insurance.