MARCO ISLAND — Three residential properties on Marco Island face fines for not hooking up to the city’s newly installed sewer lines.
Members of the city’s Code Enforcement Board unanimously issued motions to give the homeowners an additional 30 days to join the system. After that, the homeowners face a $250 per day fine until the hook up is complete, plus an additional $250 administrative fee.
The homes are located at 209 South Heathwood Court, 1504 Biscayne Way and 321 Hazelcrest Street, and are owned by Federal National Mortgage Association, Michael W. and Jennifer Sundholm and the Paul J. Stocklein Trust, respectively. Only the Heathwood Court home has undergone foreclosure proceedings and the former residents have moved out.
All homeowners were given notice of the meeting. However, none of them chose to attend.
In each case, homeowners were notified by mail in 2010 that construction would begin to install sewer lines and that the project would be completed in one year. At that time, the owners would be responsible for paying their portion to hook their residence to the city-wide system. After the deadline passed, homeowners were again notified and given three options: Use the city contractor to hook their home to the sewer line; hire a private contractor to do the job; or have a 10 year connection exemption to use a qualified advanced system at the residence. The average cost of the physical connection is approximately $1,500-$2,000.
“I think it’s the economy and that we’ve sat on them for so long,” said Code Compliance Supervisor Liz Carr of the reason the homeowners have yet to meet the completion deadline.
The bank-owned home was the most troubling for Carr, who told board members that none of the attempts to contact the bank have been acknowledged, although letters to the bank have been received and tracked through certified mail. Carr sought guidance from the board on whether to impose a fine, and if so, how much.
“I think you have to draw a line in the sand,” said member Dick Adams.
“The question now is how to get their attention,” added Carol Glassman, who noted that assessing a hefty fine might be one way to get a response and start a dialogue between the city and homeowners.
Since one of the homes is bank-owned, board member Tarik Ayasun worried that once a homeowner is found, Federal National Mortgage Association could ask code compliance to waive the fees to ensure its sale.
“They could not connect until they find a buyer,” he said. “Then the whole process of giving a fine doesn’t matter.”
Adams replied that extreme circumstances should determine whether any fines are mitigated.