The owner of Caddy's on the Beach on Treasure Island has sued the state of Florida, and it appears he will do it again.
Last week, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] sent Tony Amico a letter citing "...complaints related to restrictions...on the public's use of certain portions of beach areas in and around your restaurant...".
Amico knows the letter refers to his signs prohibiting coolers on beachfront property that he considers private property.
"Me owning a restaurant there on that beach, I want people to drink and eat my food," Amico argued. "I don't think that it's fair that somebody comes with a cooler full of beer and passes it out to their friends."
Amico thought the ownership issue was settled in 2009 as the result of similar dispute. He shared documents showing his ownership of the land, as well as the settlement agreements that suggest the state relinquished its rights to the land between Amico's establishment and the water.
"I was happy, they were happy, I thought it was over. And the DEP is bringing it up again," he said Friday.
The DEP letter acknowledges the 2009 settlement but says "The [state] did not convey nor disclaim any interest in the sovereign lands between [Amico's property] and the Gulf of Mexico."
It goes on to say the state "...claims ownership to that land for the benefit and use of the public."
Amico's response: "They're not judge and jury. If they have a question of my deeds, or my property, they need to take me to court, not order me to get off the property. They have no right."
He claims he has spent more than $5 million developing the Caddy's property since buying it in 2001. Amico calls it "...one of the most unique properties ever...Put a price on the only beach bar in Florida where you can walk with your drink out to the water line."
A spokesperson for DEP said the agency is aware of Amico's intention to challenge its position in court. She could not say whether the state will attempt to enforce public access to the beach before then, or forcibly remove Amico's signs.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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