By Carol Glassman
The City of Marco Island Code Enforcement Board met at 3:00 PM on Tuesday, July 10 at City Hall. Chairman Lou Prigge called the meeting to order and introduced the new member of the Board: Rony Joel, appointed by Councilman Trotter.
Present were Rony Joel, Richard Adams, Lou Prigge, and Phil Kostelnik. Absent: Dawn Henderson. The seven-person board still lacks two appointees, although Chairman Prigge said Debra Shanahan would be appointed at the next city council meeting.
It was recommended that Lou Prigge will remain Chairman with Richard Adams as Vice Chairman, until November, when most members of all city committees and boards will be due for either re-appointment or be replaced. The board then moved on to Old Business.
An attorney representing a property at 125 Gulfstream Street, registered to Peter G. Haisan, requested that fines of approximately $14,500 for failure to connect to the sewer be mitigated. The property has been in compliance since mid-June, and a prospective new buyer has paid for the sewer costs. Bank of America had proposed paying no more than $2,385 in order to complete the purchase. Board member Richard Adams proposed reducing the fine from $250 per day for 59 days to a sum of $2,385 which included hard costs to the city. Joel interjected that previous respondents had been fined only $10 per day, and although the Bank had allotted more money to cover the fines, suggested a lesser sum of $840, which the Board voted to accept.
A property registered to Pedro M. Torres at 224 Geranium Court, is approved for a short sale and the owner requested an extension in order to resolve some outstanding issues with the bank. There are fines of $8,322 outstanding, and the Board voted to extend the case to 90 days, or the previous Order of the Board with full fines will be in place.
City staff requested that the Board rescind its order against James N. and Dawn Carletta and Kevin J. and Lisa Doyle of 1870 Apataki Court, as there had been a clerical error resulting in a duplication of cases and fines.
At the February 2012 meeting of the Code Enforcement Board, a prospective short sale of the home of Orlando F. and Caridad Torres at 923 N. Barfield Dr. bought the owners some time to settle fines of $93,450 that had accumulated over a period of approximately six years. During this time, according to neighbor Ken Mitchell of 1201 Laurel Ct., the house had deteriorated to such a degree, “It should be condemned.” In order to facilitate the sale, the Board had reduced the fine to $6,230 to be paid within 15 days of the completion of the sale. The sale was never completed. The realtor who appeared for Torres said there is a new offer pending on the home, which should be able to close in 60 days.
Mitchell said, showing photos of the house that he had taken over the last six years, that this is what he has had to look at as a neighbor, and although the place “Didn’t look too bad from the street,” he admitted to looking into the windows and seeing collapsed ceilings and other signs of deterioration and mold that would render the property not rebuildable. He said he feared another buyer, once examining the property carefully, would also back out of the deal when finding out just what was involved in a renovation. City staff added that in 2006, a local contractor had advised the owner that, “Renovations would be as expensive as knocking down the house and starting over.”
Instead of agreeing to rescind its previous Order, the Board suggested the case be resubmitted to the August meeting, when there is a firm contract for the sale of the property. The board then moved on to New Business.
The case against The United Church of Marco Island/Bargain Basket at 750 N. Bald Eagle Dr. was postponed until the next meeting, when Board member Rony Joel had to recuse himself as his business partner is working on the parking issues and it was felt there was a conflict of interest. As there were not sufficient Board members present for a quorum without Joel’s vote, the case was not discussed.
A vacant property at 815 Rose Ct., registered to Raul Chavez and in foreclosure for several years, was described by city staff as an unsafe structure with many outstanding violations, such as overgrown grass and weeds, uncollected lawn debris and the roof being remodeled without a permit. The incomplete roof is still covered with a blue tarp, according to recent photos. In 2010 repairs were estimated at $32,000, and now screens are down, and the cover on the pool has rotted.
Board member Phil Kostelnik asked what it would take to allow the city to either repair or demolish the property, since it is an eyesore and a safety hazard with an absentee owner and a disinterested bank.
City attorney Burt Saunders said the city is working on a future ordinance to cover this kind of neglected property, but at this time all they can hope is that growing fines will get the owner’s attention.
Timothy Burke of 1267 Mistletoe Court appeared to ask the Board for an extension on his case, as he is not yet in compliance with regard to connecting to the sewer. Burke said he has two quotes for the work, and would be speaking with his bank the following day to modify his loan. Although his case was deferred to this meeting from the April Code Board meeting when he was already one year in arrears of payment, the Board agreed to allow him extra time.
Pedro Perez, Juan C. Macias and Irma Torres of 1670 Almeria Ct. have not yet complied with connecting the property to the sewer. The home has been in foreclosure since 2009, and the owners and the bank have received certified mail advising them of the situation in March 2012 but have not acknowledged the notices they received.
The Order of the Board was to give them 30 days to comply, and then set fines of $250 per day beginning on the 31st day, plus administrative costs of $250.
The property of Patrick J. and Margaret M. Collins at 1630 Winterberry Dr., in foreclosure since December 2009, was notified of non-compliance to the sewer connection in April 2012. At that time the property was already approximately one year in arrears. Although certified notices were sent to all parties, there has been no response, according to city staff. The Order of the Board was to give them 30 days to comply, and then set fines of $250 per day beginning on the 31st day, plus an administrative cost of $250.
The next Code Enforcement Board Meeting will be held on August 14 at 3:00 PM at City Hall.