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Matlacha Civic Association discusses annexation lawsuit

July 24, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Only a handful of people attended this month's Matlacha Civic Association meeting. The discussion was the status of the association's lawsuit against Cape Coral's December 2016 annexation of six lots on Matlacha.

The petitioners challenged the annexation on three fronts: (1) Cape Coral could not "voluntarily" annex the property; (2) The city had not met the requirements of the annexation statute; and, (3) passage of the ordinance was not supported by competent substantial evidence.

The petitioners also included that a municipality can not act as a real estate speculator. This was dismissed without prejudice on procedural grounds by Circuit Court Judge Keith Kyle.

On Jan. 5, 2018, Judge Kyle dismissed the lawsuit filed by MCA. In his ruling Kyle said, "it is ordered and adjudged that the petition for Writ of Certiorari is dismissed for lack of standing."

To have standing, petitioners must be able to demonstrate they have suffered a present material injury.

Matlacha resident J. Michael Hannon, a Washington, D.C., attorney, explained via phone that the district court had reversed the decision by the circuit court regarding "standing." The next legal move would be to revitalize the argument that a municipality can't engage in real estate speculation.

"We asked our attorney to revitalize the part of the original complaint that was dismissed without prejudice on procedural grounds," Hannon said. "That challenges Cape Coral's engaging in commercial real estate transactions to make a profit and that is directed at the purchase of the Matlacha lots back in 2012, and the type of activity they're doing with Seven Islands."

A petition to quash the ruling that Cape Coral petitioners did not have "standing" to challenge the city's annexation was granted in May 2019.

Hannon and the attorneys representing MCA are deciding when to file.

Matlacha Civic Association meetings are held the third Wednesday of the month at the Art Building in Matlacha Park. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 21.



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