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Judge will allow St. Pete to defend its turf in Coffee Pot Bayou

4:32 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
The State of Florida has filed suit against a local property owner, claiming his land, a 1,000-square-foot dock on the edge of Coffee Pot Bayou -- bought and sold in accordance with local laws since 1883 -- has actually belonged to the state since 1845.
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ST PETERSBURG, Florida - A judge will allow the city of St. Petersburg to take on the state of Florida in a dispute over land in Coffee Pot Bayou.

The motion was granted, despite protests from Attorney General Pam Bondi's office.  Bondi filed the suit on behalf of the Florida Cabinet & Governor Rick Scott.

As 10 Investigates first reported last July, the lawsuit is seeking to reclaim land -- privately held since 1883 -- and currently held by St. Petersburg dock owners Richard & Kelly Ware.  But the lawsuit over the submerged land in Coffee Pot Bayou concerned both then-mayor Bill Foster and now-mayor Rick Kriseman.

City leaders sought to intervene in the case, fearing a victorious takeback of the land could cloud titles of nearly 100 other property owners along Coffee Pot Bayou, including the city.

Judge Walter Schafer made the ruling, which pits the city's high-powered attorneys against those of the state.

Despite repeated requests for comment, neither Bondi nor Scott have been willing to answer 10 Investigates' questions.

Previous stories:

2/4/14 - St. Pete takes its case over Coffee Pot to court
11/7/13 - New mayor Kriseman will continue fighting state
10/25/13 - City of St. Pete will intervene in lawsuit
8/16/13 - Gov. Scott's answers don't match questions on lawsuit
8/14/13 - Gov. Scott, AG Bondi avoiding controversial questions on suit
8/6/13 - Gov. Scott, Cabinet members answer questions on Coffee Pot Bayou lawsuit
7/31/13 - State Senator tries to get action on Coffee Pot Bayou suit
7/28/13 - St. Petersburg dock owner sued by state for his land

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips to npransky@wtsp.com.

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