Long Bar Pointe property owners, located in Longboat Key, can now extend the deadline to make claims against the town for damages that occurred due to the June 2020 break of a sewer line. This break caused corrosion in the subaqueous force main of the town which led to 14 million gallons of effluent being leaked into Sarasota Bay. After the break, Long Bar Pointe representatives informed the town of damages sustained from the leak and emergency repair efforts and their intent to pursue a claim.
According to Town Attorney Maggie Mooney’s memo to commissioners, the town had various meetings with Long Bar Pointe representatives regarding the repair plans for the entire pipeline and the mangrove restoration work required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. However, to date, no actual claims have been made against the town.
When the town approached property representatives about the need for a temporary access agreement to complete work on the mainland portion of the sewer line replacement, the managing general partner of Long Bar Pointe, Carlos Beruff, approved the access agreement on the condition that the town extend its statute of limitations period for the property owners to bring forth claims. After this discussion, town counsel and Long Bar Pointe’s legal counsel drafted a tolling agreement.
Florida law requires that damages be brought forward within a four-year period after the damages occur. The tolling agreement extends the litigation filing deadline and allows parties to negotiate and possibly resolve their dispute without taking legal action. This agreement suspends the statute of limitations for 10 months and expires on Jan. 30, 2024, and it was unanimously approved by commissioners at their March 6 regular meeting.
The tolling agreement ensures that town staff can continue to work with Long Bar Pointe representatives cooperatively, rather than forcing a lawsuit due to an impending statute of limitations deadline. In other words, Long Bar Pointe would not be allowed to file a lawsuit against the town until after the expiration of the tolling agreement. During this agreed-upon 10-month period, negotiations can be had and often parties can reach a settlement without the need to appear in court.
The mainland portion of Longboat Key’s sewer line replacement can now be completed following the approval of an access agreement for the final piece up to Long Bar Pointe property. The access road extends from El Conquistador Parkway west to Sarasota Bay, and the agreement was passed in conjunction with the tolling agreement. The mainland portion covers 1.2 miles of the town’s 4-mile pipeline. Unlike the portion under the bay, which will be fully replaced, the mainland portion was sliplined. The new pipe, measuring 18 inches in diameter, has been placed inside of the existing 20-inch pipe.
The new access agreement lasts until Feb. 24, 2026, unless terminated with notice by the town or Long Bar Pointe property representatives. This agreement is crucial to the completion of the sewer line replacement project, which will help prevent any future breaks or leaks, ultimately protecting the environment and the residents of Longboat Key. The extension of the statute of limitations deadline and the completion of the sewer line replacement project with the new access agreement show the town’s commitment to resolving this issue and maintaining a good relationship with Long Bar Pointe property owners.