of Friday August 21st 2009 the Jensen Beach Group and the named
residents of Jensen Beach have reached a settlement with Bill and Nancy
Reily and Reily Enterprises bringing the SLAPP suit and the SLAPP-back suit
to an end.
We cannot comment about the settlement but we are
well satisfied with the conclusion of the cases and we are glad the
litigation is over.
The lawsuit filed by Mr. Reily against residents of
Jensen Beach was a classic SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public
Participation) suit designed to silence citizens who objected to -- and
still object to -- the Pitchford's Landing project he proposed to build on
the Pitchford's RV Park site.
Residents successfully challenged the permit Reily
applied for to build a concrete seawall on the Indian River Lagoon. The
Department of Environmental Protection and the Fourth District Court of
Appeals ultimately agreed with residents that the seawall project could be
harmful to the environment and the permit was denied.
Residents also successfully challenged the density
and height of the proposed project, which was scaled back 40% by the Board
of County Commissioners in response to the comments of the Jensen Beach
The litigation has been going on for more than three
years and has cost all parties in the range of a million dollars. It has
been emotionally and financially draining for all of us and we welcome an
end to the battle of Pitchford's Landing but do not regret the action we
took. If you do not stand up for your rights, if you do not protect your
community, then no one else will do it for you.
Unfortunately, the end of the litigation is only the
beginning of new challenges for residents of Martin County who want to
protect and preserve their neighborhoods. We are facing threats from
developers despite the horrendous state of the economy, and citizens must
now more than ever stand up for our rights to participate in government
decision-making that will affect our homes and our children's future.
Ultimately we hope that our ordeal will serve as an
example to other residents that citizens can affect what happens in their
neighborhood even when opposed by one of the largest law firms in the state
and a team of well funded professionals.