Sarasota News Leader

06/20/2014

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EDITORIAL OPINION AVARICE SHOULD NOT TRUMP COMMON SENSE ON BEACH BUILDING RULES EDITORIAL For one-and-a-half years, The Sarasota News Leader has been reporting on the efforts of Ronald and Sania Allen of Osprey to obtain a variance from the county so they could build a large house, complete with swimming pool, on a Beach Road lot that only a few decades ago was underneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. That the "land" now actually is dry most of the time is a testament to the tenuousness of coastal geology. Sand eroded somewhere else and ended up on Siesta Key Beach, building up lots that were previously part of the gulf seafloor. But just as easily, those forces could change, and the land in question would once again be submerged. From the beginning, the Allens' path to ownership of two lots on Beach Road has spawned more questions than the answers we have seen for them. That mainly is due to the labyrinthine loopholes in Florida land law that make determining actual ownership and actual costs of land so abstruse that a money launderer for a drug cartel would be envious. Regardless, according to public records, the Allens purchased the two lots in May 2009 from Brent Cooper, himself a trustee for the land trust that owned the land … a clever device for keeping actual ownership of any given parcel a complete mystery. They paid the astounding sum of $5,400,000 apiece for the two lots, which even for gulf-front beach lots seemed steep. The price seems even more ludicrous when one considers that the last meaningful sale of the land, from one obscure land trust to OPINION

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