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Hannon provides update on annexation lawsuit

July 26, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Last Wednesday, July 19, Michael Hannon and the Matlacha Civic Association announced "Judge Kyle's order adopting, in full, the recommendation of Magistrate Bocelli on the motion to dismiss filed by Cape Coral in our annexation lawsuit."

Hannon is a plaintiff in the case, a Matlacha resident, and a member of the MCA.

According to Hannon, Judge Kyle will now make a decision on the motion to dismiss count one in the suit, which is the challenge to the annexation ordinance.

"We are asking him to do that promptly based on the pleadings already filed," Hannon said. "We expect that count one will proceed to a final decision on the lawfulness of the annexation in our favor."

The lawsuit challenging Cape Coral's unlawful purchase and development of land in count two will also proceed, he said.

"We simply need to follow Judge Bocelli's recommendation and file it separately; however, that is only a procedural issue. We expect Judge Kyle will eventually set a discovery schedule for this part of the lawsuit. We will be allowed to take depositions and require production of documents regarding Cape Coral's purchase and ownership of land for speculation."

Hannon, who is an attorney but not admitted in Florida, has been assisting MCA attorneys Matthew Uhle and Stephen Brannock in the lawsuit.

"I hope that in the ordinary course, we will have a decision on the annexation challenge this year," Hannon said. "A decision in our favor will go a long way to resolving longstanding conflicts between our various island communities and Cape Coral."

On Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, the Cape Coral City Council voted to annex 5 lots on Matlacha Island to the city of Cape Coral. In the days following the meeting, Pine Island residents organized a series of meetings and several protest rallies in an attempt to reverse the council's decision.

The Matlacha Civic Association with the assistance of Hannon established a "litigation fund" that promptly raised $40,000. On April 22, the MCA held its first annual "Watercolors Gala" at the St. James City Civic Association Community Center where it raised an additional $23,000.

"The part of the lawsuit accusing Cape Coral of land speculation has a strong foundation in the law," Hannon said. "There are other lawsuits that have been brought against municipalities in other parts of Florida."

The lawsuit itself alleges: "The purchase and proposed development of the Property is an exercise of entrepreneurship not permitted by the City Charter or the Florida Constitution."

Hannon said the purchase and annexation of the property (on Matlacha) is part of a much larger development project being spearheaded by the city on its western-most boundary. This larger development plan seeks to establish marinas, 8-story hotels and condominiums, retail shopping and other commercial enterprises along the North Spreader Canal which runs directly north from the Property.

This project has been dubbed by the city as the Seven Islands.



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