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Water-Related News

Sarasota must answer to dredging lawsuit by concerned Siesta Key group

After previously dismissing part of a lawsuit against the city of Sarasota by a Siesta Key group, a circuit court judge has acknowledged the suit seeking to sideline the city’s planned dredging of Big Pass to renourish Lido Beach’s eroded shoreline has merit.

Circuit Court Judge Andrea McHugh on Monday gave the city 20 days to show why the court should not issue a writ of mandamus to make the city explain how the project is consistent with the regulations of the city and other jurisdictions. A writ of mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official mandating the official to properly fulfill their duties.

McHugh last year and in January dismissed portions of the lawsuit brought by the Siesta Key Association alleging the city was required to seek and obtain approval for the project from the Sarasota County Commission as required by environmental chapters of the comprehensive plans of both jurisdictions. Since McHugh threw out parts of the suit without prejudice, her rulings paved the way for the group to keep the case alive by filing amended complaints.

In her ruling this week, McHugh concluded that the group’s effort to make the city get county approval for the project is a broad interpretation of the city’s duties outlined in its own comprehensive plan. McHugh, however, added the comprehensive plan does require the city to ensure the project is consistent with local, regional, state and federal regulations.