Petition for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action: Agencies, Boards, and Commissions of Local Government: ZONING – Variances – City did not depart from the essential requirements of law in denying variance request by Petitioner to install two tie poles at end of dock – variance request did not meet Code criteria - Petition denied.  Ritchie v. City of Treasure Island, Appeal No. 06-0051AP-88A (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. April 13, 2007).











vs.                                                                                                Appeal No.06-0051AP-88A




FLORIDA, a municipal corporation,







            THIS CAUSE came before the Court on the Petition for Review of Quasi-Judicial Action, the Response and the Reply.  Upon consideration of the same and being otherwise fully advised, the Court finds that the Petition must be denied as set forth below.

            The Petitioner, Steven D. Ritchie, Trustee (Ritchie), seeks review of the decision of the Planning and Zoning Board, City of Treasure Island (City), to deny Ritchie’s variance request to install two tie poles at the end of his dock.  In reviewing the administrative action taken below, the Court must consider whether Ritchie was afforded procedural due process, whether the essential requirements of law were observed and whether the decision is supported by competent substantial evidence.  See Haines City Community Development v. Heggs, 658 So.2d 523, 530 (Fla. 1995)(setting forth the standard of certiorari review of administrative action).  As Ritchie does not argue that the City denied him due process, the Court need not address that prong.

            The record shows that Ritchie owns real property located at 368 Bay Plaza, Treasure Island.  The waterfront property has a duplex, a seawall and a dock that extends fifty feet from the property into Boca Ciega Bay.  The existing dock was constructed in 2005.  While the City granted a permit for the dock to be built in 2005, the City denied Ritchie’s additional request to install two tie poles twenty feet from the end of the dock.  In April 2006, Ritchie again applied for a variance to install two tie poles twenty feet from the end of the dock.  Ritchie asserted that the tie poles were necessary for safety and environmental reasons.  The City’s staff recommended approval of the requested variance primarily because of the growth of the seagrass bed.  The Staff Report recognized that the proposal “may not be the absolute minimum variance necessary to make possible the reasonable use of the property” and that the proposal “is not in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Chapter 69 of the City Code.”  After a hearing on the matter, the City’s Planning and Zoning Board denied Ritchie’s variance request.  

            Before this Court, Ritchie argues that the Board’s decision departs from the essential requirements of law and is not supported by competent substantial evidence.  In addressing these issues, the Court finds that Ritchie had the burden to establish that he met the requirements for the variance.  See Gomez v. City of St. Petersburg, 550 So.2d 7, 8 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989).  The City’s Code sets forth several criteria which must be met before a variance can be granted.  See Code Sec. 69-91(a)(1)-(3). The Board must adhere to the requirements of its Code, which is subject to the same rules of construction as statutes.  See Rinker Materials Corp. v. City of North Miami Beach, 286 So.2d 552, 553 (Fla. 1973). 

            In this case, the Board’s majority did not find that Ritchie met the City’s Code criteria for granting a variance, including that the literal enforcement of City’s Code would result in extreme hardship due to the unique nature of the property.  See Town of Indialantic v. Nance, 485 So.2d 1318, 1320 (Fla. 5th DCA 1986), rev. den. 494 So.2d 1152 (Fla. 1986) (concluding that landowner was not entitled to variance where there was no hardship unique to his land).  The Court finds that there is competent substantial evidence in the record to support the City’s decision and that the City’s actions conform to the essential requirements of law.  The Court cannot reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of the Board.  See Haines City, supra.

            Therefore, it is,

            ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Petition for Review of Quasi-Judicial Action is denied.     

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ______ of April 2007.




                                                         R. TIMOTHY PETERS

                                                         Circuit Judge, Appellate Division






______________________________                        ______________________________

GEORGE M. JIROTKA                                          CYNTHIA J. NEWTON

Circuit Judge, Appellate Division                                   Circuit Judge, Appellate Division







Copies furnished to:


Thomas E. Reynolds, Esquire

535 Central Avenue

St. Petersburg, FL  33701


Maura Jean Kiefer, Esquire

535 Central Avenue, Suite 411

St. Petersburg, FL  33701