Petition for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action: Agencies, Boards, and Commissions of Local Government: ZONING – Standing – homeowner who resides several blocks away from subject residence lacked standing to appeal City’s decision to approve location of garage doors – homeowner did not establish that he was adversely affected by the approval - Petition dismissed.  Steven Lange v. City of St. Petersburg Council, No. 04-0042AP-88A (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. Feb. 16, 2005). 

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

STEVEN DOUGLAS LANGE,

                                    Petitioner,

vs.                                                                                                Appeal No. 04-0042AP-88A

                                                                                                    UCN522004AP000042XXXXCV

CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG CITY COUNCIL,

                                    Respondent.

________________________________________________/

 

ORDER DISMISSNG PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

 

            THIS CAUSE came before the Court on the Petition for Writ of Certiorari, the Response, and the Reply.  Upon consideration of the briefs, record, case law, and being otherwise fully advised, the Court finds that the Petition must be dismissed, sua sponte,[1] as the Petitioner, Steven Douglas Lange (Lange), does not have standing to appeal the decision entered by the Respondent, City of St. Petersburg City Council (City Council), involving residential property located at 1900 Bay Street Northeast.

            Lange seeks review of Resolution No. 2004-262, in which the City Council found that a proposed garage addition, with the garage doors facing 19th Avenue Northeast, is compatible with the character of the neighbor.  The basic facts are that Tom Young and Liz Wallace (Owners), who are not parties to this appeal, purchased the subject property in 2003.  The property sits on a corner lot bordered by 19th Avenue to the south and Bay Street to the east and has an existing 2-car driveway located on the south side, facing 19th Avenue.  The Owners sought to add a 2-car garage over the existing driveway and filed its development request with the Neighborhood Design Review, Person of Designation (NRD).[2]  The NRD denied the request finding that the orientation of the garage doors facing 19th Avenue did not meet NRD criteria.  The Owners appealed this decision to the City’s Planning Commission which overturned the NRD decision in 5-4 vote following a public hearing on March 2, 2004.  Several individuals, including Lange, appealed the Planning Commission decision to City Council.[3]  At the conclusion of the hearing before the City Council on April 22, 2004, a motion to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision failed.  The City Council then voted unanimously to approve the proposed garage addition, with the garage doors facing 19th Avenue, with the condition that the garage comply with design “alternative B” or a design more compatible with NRD guidelines and approved by City Staff.[4] 

            Without having to address the myriad of issues presented, the Court finds that Lange, who resides several blocks away from the Owners,[5] does not have standing to appeal the decision entered by the City Council, which ultimately concluded that the garages doors could face 19th Avenue instead of Bay Street as suggested by the NRD.[6]  The Court notes this is not a zoning matter.  However, zoning cases give some guidance on this issue. 

            As analyzed by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Wingrove Estates Homeowners Association v. Paul Curtis Realty, Inc., 744 So.2d 1242 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999), to have standing to challenge a zoning change or variance, a property owner must establish that the zoning change has adversely affected some legally recognizable interest, such as property value.  See also City of St. Petersburg v. Marelli, 728 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)(finding that neighboring property owners affected by zoning changes have standing to challenge the changes); Rinker Materials Corporation v. Metropolitan Dade County, 528 So.2d 904 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987)(holding that cement mill operator had standing to challenge the validity of county ordinance approving the rezoning of adjacent property); Carlos Estates, Inc. v. Dade County, 426 So.2d 1167 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983)(concluding that individual who lived within 700 feet of the subject property had the requisite standing to appeal zoning decision). 

            Lange has not established how he is adversely affected by the City Council’s decision.  Although the City’s Code allows any “interested party” to appeal a decision by the Planning Commission to the City Council, this does not, ipso facto, give him standing to appeal to this Court.  Indeed, Lange was not entitled to notice of the proceedings below[7] and only became aware of the proposed garage addition after watching, on March 9, 2004, a replay of the Planning Commission’s March 2nd appeal hearing.   Accordingly, the Court finds that the above-styled Petition must be dismissed for lack of standing.

            Therefore, it is,

            ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is hereby dismissed. 

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ________ day of February 2005.

 

 

 

 

                                                                        ___________________________________

                                                                        JOHN A. SCHAEFER

                                                                        Circuit Judge, Appellate Division

 

 

 

Copies furnished to:

 

Nicole E. Weiss, Esquire

5999 Central Avenue, Suite 202

St. Petersburg, FL  33710

 

Milton A. Galbraith, Jr., Esquire

Assistant City Attorney

Post Office Box 2842

St. Petersburg, FL  33731-2842



[1] The City raised the issue of standing in its Response, but did not file a separate motion to dismiss.  

[2]  The purpose of the NRD is to ensure that new development in certain designated neighborhoods is compatible with existing or desired neighborhood characteristics.  See City Code, Sec. 16-633.

[3] Any “interested party” may appeal a decision made by the Planning Commission to the City Council.  See City Code, Sec. 16-636(6)c. 

[4] The Court notes that the garage design approved by the City Council, alternative B, is not the design considered by either the NRD or the Planning Commission.  No party with standing has appealed the propriety of this decision. 

[5] The address listed by Lange on his appeal petition to the City Council is 526 15th Avenue Northeast.

[6] As stated by the City in footnote 1 of its Response, the Owners still need a variance for a yard setback in order to construct the garage.     

[7]  The City’s Code states that the person appealing an NRD decision must provide notice to property owners within 200 feet of the subject site.  See City Code, Sec. 16-636(6)b