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Court of Appeals sets oral argument in lawsuit over Matlacha annexation

Hearing concerning Cape property set for Oct. 17

August 21, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

The annexation lawsuit filed by the Matlacha Civic Association against the city of Cape Coral took a step forward last week when the Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing for Oct. 17, 2018.

"Oral argument was requested by the judges," petitioner Michael Hannon said last week. "This is a good sign, as the Court of Appeals rarely reverses a case without oral argument."

In December 2016, the Cape Coral City Council voted to annex 6 lots on Matlacha Island to the city of Cape Coral. In the days following the annexation, Pine Island residents organized a series of meetings and protest rallies in an attempt to persuade the council to reverse its decision.

The Matlacha Civic Association filed a lawsuit against Cape Coral requesting a review of the annexation because the city "has not met the requirements of the annexation statute ..." and "the property to be annexed creates an illegal pocket or enclave in violation of the statute."

The lawsuit further claimed, "The purchase and proposed development of the property is an exercise of entrepreneurship not permitted by the City Charter or the Florida Constitution."

Circuit Court Judge Keith Kyle of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit for Lee County dismissed the petition because "the petition must be denied because the Petitioners lack standing to challenge the petition."

"Standing" is defined as the "capacity of a party to bring suit in court. ... These typically revolve around the requirement that plaintiffs have sustained or will sustain direct injury or harm and that this harm is redressable."

Kyle further stated that a party must suffer "material injury" in order to have "standing" to challenge the annexation and that the "material injury must arise from the governing body's failure to comply with the procedures and requirements of annexation."

Kyle determined that none of the parties suffered "material injury."

The Matlacha Civic Association petitioners filed a second petition to "hereby seek second-tier certiorari review of the Circuit Court's erroneous denial of the Cape Coral Petitioners' original certiorari petition," further stating that the Circuit Court applied the wrong law in determining that none of the plaintiffs had standing to challenge Cape Coral's unconstitutional use of voluntary annexation.

"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 Court of Appeals has scheduled oral argument in the Annexation Lawsuit against Cape Coral for Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 9:30 a.m., before Judge Morris Silberman, Judge Patricia J. Kelly and Judge Daniel H. Sleet.

Oral argument will occur at the Second District Court of Appeal, Tampa Branch Headquarters, in the courtroom of the Stetson University College Of Law, Tampa Campus, First Floor, 1700 North Tampa St., Tampa.

Arguments at the court in Tampa are generally webcast. The webcast feed comes live approximately five minutes before the commencement of oral argument and can be accessed at: Calendar/oa-streaming.shtml



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