City facing litigation over Beach Drive home

Matt Algarin
This structure at 718 Beach Drive is at the center of pending litigation between the city of Destin and Alan Laird, who owns the neighboring property.

A building and due process debate is taking shape along Beach Drive, and a lawsuit has been filed seeking resolution.

The building in question is a large structure located at 718 Beach Drive. From the outside, the building appears to be nothing more than a storage shed, but according to city officials the building is actually a residential dwelling and meets all city codes and criteria.

But for the property's neighbor, Alan Laird, the home, if you will, doesn't fit the character of the neighborhood, according to a lawsuit filed on his behalf. Laird actually sold the property to its current owner in 2010 for $330,000.

Based on the document, Laird is suing the city of Destin and its Board of Adjustments after the body denied his administrative appeal that challenged the city's issuance of a building permit for the home.

The lawsuit alleges that Laird was denied due process and a "gross miscarriage of justice occurred" when the appeal was denied.

Under city codes, an appeal to the issuance of any building permit must be filed 30 days after the original building permit was issued. In this case, the permit was issued on May 21.

Laird, according to the lawsuit, filed an application for appeal Oct. 18, and it was ultimately rejected and returned with application on Oct. 25.

Community Development Director Ken Gallander told The Log Wednesday that the city rejected Laird's appeal based solely on the fact that the deadline was missed.

While the structure may not look like the rest of the homes along Beach Drive, Gallander said the city doesn't have the ability to "regulate the architectural style" of homes in Destin.

"It's a single family dwelling and an allowed use," he said. "It meets all code requirements."

Gallander added that the structure's planscalled for a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms and closets, despite its storage-like appearance. A home cannot receive a certificate of occupancy until it's inspected and meets all requirements.

"Basically he just wants to be heard by the board of adjustments," Gallander told The Log. "They didn't know the permit was issued."

Given the pending litigation, Gallander said city land use attorney Scott Shirley is prepared to offer a settlement, which would possibly stave off a  costly court battle, while still allowing Laird to have a hearing before the board of adjustments.

If Laird agrees to the settlement offer, he would get his hearing, but that doesn't mean the city is going to change its stance.

"The city will argue our position that the deadline was passed," Gallander said.

Laird was unavailable for comment.