A judge sided with the owners of a private club and the City of Tampa on Thursday, allowing Stovall House to serve alcohol.
Nearly two dozen neighbors, along with the Keep Bayshore Beautiful organization, sued the City of Tampa over the historic house becoming a private club. They argued that the “private residential club” the owner wants to establish isn’t allowed in their neighborhood due to Tampa’s zoning laws.
But Judge Ralph Stoddard ruled Thursday that the club will be allowed to exist and serve alcohol.
Stoddard considered the issues raised by the neighbors but eventually ruled that “while there were opinions and testimony presented against the approval of the special use permit, the record reflects the special use permit with the prescribed conditions is consistent with the City of Tampa’s Comprehensive Plan.”
Judge Stoddard ruled some of the two dozen residents who were listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit did not have “standing,” or basically the right to sue as a specifically injured party.
But Stoddard ruled that Robert Soriano does. Soriano was the attorney for the neighbors, and also lives directly behind the Stovall House himself. According to the ruling, Stoddard “stands to be directly affected by the alleged aspects.”
Shortly after the ruling, Soriano’s wife told News Channel 8 they plan to talk to their neighbors and members of Keep Bayshore Beautiful before deciding whether they will appeal.
The neighbors had been unsuccessful convincing Tampa City Council not to allow the new facility in their neighborhood.
The new owner of the home is Blake Casper, the man responsible for revamping the popular Oxford Exchange building near downtown.
Casper did not return 8 On Your Side’s call for comment after the ruling. He previously took News Channel 8’s Gayle Guyardo on a tour of the lavish home, which he bought for around $10 million last year.