REDINGTON BEACH – A Redington Beach couple has sued the town alleging an ordinance approved in 2018 allowed the public to illegally use their beachfront property.

Pamela Greacen and Arthur L. Buser, 16120 Gulf Blvd., filed the lawsuit Oct. 29 in circuit court asking for the town’s “customary use” ordinance to be declared unconstitutional.

The ordinance, approved unanimously by town commissioners in June, was in response to a law passed by the Legislature earlier that year that allowed beachfront property owners to block off their property from public access down to the mean high-water line. Local governments would have to sue the landowner to gain access to that portion of the beach above the mean high-water line.

The law exempted municipalities that had already passed ordinances for “customary use” of their beaches’ dry sand areas. In a memo to commissioners in May, Town Attorney Jay Daigneault said a customary use ordinance they had passed several years before was “sufficient to exempt” the town, but he drafted a “supplemental” ordinance the commission passed in June. The ordinance prohibits public access in a buffer zone “extending 15 feet from the toe of a dune or from any privately owned habitable structure.”

The plaintiffs claim the town “maintains” a public bench within the 15-foot buffer zone.

The lawsuit claims the customary use ordinance “without any supporting evidence … declared that the public’s access and recreational used on all beaches in the town has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption, and free from dispute.”

As a result of the customary use ordinance, the property owners “have lost all economically beneficial use of their property,” the suit alleged.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $15,000.