Marco Island Code Enforcement Board takes action on non-responsive property owners

Chairman Lou Prigge tells a witness they must follow proper procedure. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Chairman Lou Prigge tells a witness they must follow proper procedure. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Chairman Lou Prigge, center, speaks to a witness. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Chairman Lou Prigge, center, speaks to a witness. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Code Compliance Officer Patrick Hayman testifies to the board concerning a violation. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Code Compliance Officer Patrick Hayman testifies to the board concerning a violation. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Resident Lyle Rayner lays out the problems that exist across the street from him. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules.  Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Resident Lyle Rayner lays out the problems that exist across the street from him. Marco Island's Code Enforcement Board met Tuesday, dealing with real estate whose owners are not following the rules. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— At the Code Enforcement Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, there was a message to those with cases in front of the body: Work with us.

The CEB has substantial power, with the ability to levy fines that can climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and impose liens on real estate to ensure those fines are – eventually – paid. In general, the board wields this power lightly, and is long-suffering to a fault.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and there is typically a lag of years from when a property first becomes a subject of a code compliance complaint, to when it comes up for a hearing, and is eventually assessed a monetary penalty. More often not, the fines are “mitigated,” or substantially reduced or even waived.

Board members know this; it even led CEB member Tarik Ayasun to complain at a previous meeting that “I don’t think this $250 is scaring anyone any more,” and humorously suggest that aerial drone attacks might get more attention from malefactors. But cases at this month’s meeting of the board illustrated that the CEB’s patience has a limit, and after a point, the “enforcement” part of the body’s name comes into play.

Code compliance supervisor Liz Carr took the board through the lengthy series of notifications and attempted communications with Daniel Sweeney, owner of a house at 370 Worthington St. In addition to failure to connect to the city sewer system, the complaint that currently makes up the great bulk of code enforcement cases, the property was cited for overgrown landscaping, debris and abandoned property around the house, and two derelict, inoperable vehicles sitting in front of the house.

“This address has been an issue as long as I’ve been in code compliance,” said Carr, with the frustration apparent behind her always calm and polite demeanor. Over the years, there have been about 15 different complaints on the property, and no evidence of cooperation from the owner.

One of the neighbors, Lyle Rayner, who lives across the street, appeared before the committee, and spoke representing another neighbor, Bill Fredericks, who filed the current complaint.

“The vehicles are used as storage lockers, and covered with mold,” he told the committee. There are eight people living in the house, with a garden hose the only source of water, and a problem with rats.

While some of these issues are outside the jurisdiction of the CEB, as city attorney Burt Saunders pointed out, there are definitely code enforcement matters as well.

“I can’t believe this,” said board member Steve Stefanides. CEB chairman Lou Prigge noted that the board needed to be sure to follow all procedures to the letter, in what could be a difficult case, they essentially threw the book at Mr. Sweeney, in absentia.

Instead of the usual $250 per day fine, the CEB voted unanimously to fine the owner $500 per day, plus a $500 administrative fee, and to designate him as a repeat offender. After checking with Saunders, they also elected to notify the mortgage company to let them know they could have a problem on their hands.

In another case, the property of Joseph Daniel III at 498 Barfield Drive, Saunders mentioned the need for a fist inside the glove.

“I think there needs to be a little bit of a hammer to force the property owner to take action,” he said. “Or, quite frankly, if I was the property owner, I’d just let the city fix it.”

The Code Enforcement Board meets monthly at City Council chambers next to City Hall. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10.

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Comments » 22

Joe_Btfsplk writes:

Code enforcement is a valuable service. We had an issue with water being dumped on our property. The owner was not at fault - a contractor diverted the water unknown to the owner. The matter was cleared up quickly. Thanks.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

First we have drone attacks on the citizens, now we have a fist in the glove along with the use of a hammer to force the citizens into submission. Yes these are just words, but they are indicative of these peoples true feelings and desire to exert power over other people.

These people are nothing more than a bunch little people (excluding Lou) who want to feel powerful. Basically a bunch of feminine cleansing nozzles.

We need less government! Not more! I look forward to the day when people like this are lamp post decorations. The writers of the constitution are turning in their grave!

Brisla writes:

Well said, WTF.

RayNetherwood writes:

Well, as much as Big Brother merits getting whittled down from time to time, the question remains about what to do with folks who won't take care of their property? It's not just appearance, but as a long distance walker and bike rider on Marco, there are plenty of places where bushes encroach into sidewalks and tree branches aren't trimmed to the point where one either walks off the sidewalk or takes a whack to the head. Ironically, in many cases these "violators" have nice appearing property, just not citizen friendly. Sigh ...........

islandgma writes:

It's a situation of whichever the wind blows...last year somebody got it in their minds to ticket folks who parked across the sidewalk while in their own driveway. My husband, we are FULL TIME (that means 12 months a year) citizens of Marco. Immediately paid the ticket although were a bit distrought over the fact that there never was anything in the papers or no such announcements stating this would be done. Then of course there was the one week speed change because somebody complained to somebody else who thought it may be a good idea to lower. Not even thinking that those that speed will speed regardless if it's 5 - 10 or 35 mph. Yes, power mongers who wanted to retire to a nice peaceful island but can't stop telling others what to do.

liberator100 writes:

islandgma: Your information is incorrect. The two matters you refer to are Police matters and have nothing to do with code compliance.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

Time to wake up folks! Voting for the donkey or the elephant will not change anything! Ron Paul is not the answer, but he will follow the constitution! These people in the local, county, state, and federal government currently are taking away your constitutional rights every day! Keep allowing it to happen because it doesn't affect you today. It will affect you tomorrow. I promise!

Read the Constitution! The Bill of Rights. Understand what the writers were trying to prevent. They were not dumb. As the judge says..."The constitution was written to keep the government off the peoples back!"

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot:

Time to wake up folks! Voting for the donkey or the elephant will not change anything! Ron Paul is not the answer, but he will follow the constitution! These people in the local, county, state, and federal government currently are taking away your constitutional rights every day! Keep allowing it to happen because it doesn't affect you today. It will affect you tomorrow. I promise!

Read the Constitution! The Bill of Rights. Understand what the writers were trying to prevent. They were not dumb. As the judge says..."The constitution was written to keep the government off the peoples back!"

What part of the Constitution is does this violate? Specifically?

islandgma writes:

in response to liberator100:

islandgma: Your information is incorrect. The two matters you refer to are Police matters and have nothing to do with code compliance.

I realize that and was making a general statement on how things get done here on Marco.

marco97 writes:

Bald Eagle Dr. never got changed back to 35 mph so I still go with the old speed limit, just figure they haven't got a chance to change it. And do you think they just happened to have 50 or so 30mph signs laying around just in case they need changing? I think someone needed to order them in advance.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to Mayor_McCheese:

What part of the Constitution is does this violate? Specifically?

Mr. McCheese,
I won't pretend to be a constitutional expert. The constitution was written to prevent the rights of individuals from being trampled by an out of control government. That includes property rights to me. The right to do to, or with my property as I please.

You may need the government to help you control your life and surroundings. I do not. Enjoy your help and control. You deserve it. Much more is coming.

liberator100 writes:

To: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot: It is obvious that you are not an expert on the Constitution although you are not ashamed to quote it as if you are! Now that you mention Ron Paul's name; that makes you an expert on NOTHING. Ron Paul is a clueless old man who should have retired ages ago. He is totally out of touch with reality; living back in the 50's and probably suffering from amnesia. Your comments from now on will have to be considered in this light.

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot:

Mr. McCheese,
I won't pretend to be a constitutional expert. The constitution was written to prevent the rights of individuals from being trampled by an out of control government. That includes property rights to me. The right to do to, or with my property as I please.

You may need the government to help you control your life and surroundings. I do not. Enjoy your help and control. You deserve it. Much more is coming.

I get really tired of people saying things like "that's unconstitutional" about every grievence they see in their lives that in some way involves government.

Then, they leave comments like "Have you read the Constitution?"

My question to you is: Have you actually ever read the Constitution? Do you have any idea what it really says or why it was written and in what context? I guess you only believe everything you hear on talk radio or Fox News.

Do youself a favor and actually read it. See what it says and what it doesn't say.

You don't need to be a Constituional scholar, you just have to be literate.

When you finally do take the time to go online and actually read it, you may be disappointed to find that many of the principles the hard Right holds as sacred are not in fact addressed in the Constitution. You will hope and expect they are there - because Rush told you so - but you will never find them because they are not there.

Open you eyes. The reality isn't so scary. If you yell louder, you don't become correct, you just get louder.

RayPray writes:

in response to liberator100:

To: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot: It is obvious that you are not an expert on the Constitution although you are not ashamed to quote it as if you are! Now that you mention Ron Paul's name; that makes you an expert on NOTHING. Ron Paul is a clueless old man who should have retired ages ago. He is totally out of touch with reality; living back in the 50's and probably suffering from amnesia. Your comments from now on will have to be considered in this light.

"Ron Paul is a clueless old man..."

>>> Paul will surprise everyone, including himself, by first taking the nomination, then sweeping the presidency.

>>> Like Reagan, he has the luck of being continually underestimated by his enemies.

>>> You & your paltering twin (zero hope & chump change) Obama will both be swept into the garbage can of history.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

liberator100,
As I said. RP does not have all the answers but he believes in the constitution, is a true free market capitalist, sees the country spending its way to being the Euro Zone, and wants to end the BS wars. Whats wrong with that. I guess that you want 4 more years of the same 30 years we've had. That is understandable if you are a boomer. You've lived the greatest credit/leverage cycle ever in the history of the world. Most of it was not real (in terms of GDP, job creation, housing, etc) and now the next two generations are going to live the exact opposite. Deleveraging. Thanks! Make sure you thank your kids and grand kids. You saying RP is clueless only shows your ignorance. Actually listen to what he says, not what the media tells you.

McCheese says I heard it on fox news or from Rush. I'm not from the baby boom generation and that is an insult to me. Rush, Beck, FOX, CNN, is BS. Just something to keep the Boomer generation distracted from the real issues. I have to say that it has worked flawlessly! The government and bankers are going to fleece this flock effortlessly. Almost exactly like they have the Greeks, and soon the rest of the Euro nations, Japan, etc, etc. I'm sure you believe that Corzine isn't a crook, and the government works for you and not people like Corzine, Mozillo, etc.

The constitution is a framework for government. It lists individual rights the writers wanted the people to have. Mr. McCheese is maybe a future appointee to the supreme court? They have been interpreting and amending the constitution for many years. Had McCheese been there it would have all been figured out by now. I will be waiting for the Hamburgler to appoint you and the Fry Guys to confirm you.

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot:

liberator100,
As I said. RP does not have all the answers but he believes in the constitution, is a true free market capitalist, sees the country spending its way to being the Euro Zone, and wants to end the BS wars. Whats wrong with that. I guess that you want 4 more years of the same 30 years we've had. That is understandable if you are a boomer. You've lived the greatest credit/leverage cycle ever in the history of the world. Most of it was not real (in terms of GDP, job creation, housing, etc) and now the next two generations are going to live the exact opposite. Deleveraging. Thanks! Make sure you thank your kids and grand kids. You saying RP is clueless only shows your ignorance. Actually listen to what he says, not what the media tells you.

McCheese says I heard it on fox news or from Rush. I'm not from the baby boom generation and that is an insult to me. Rush, Beck, FOX, CNN, is BS. Just something to keep the Boomer generation distracted from the real issues. I have to say that it has worked flawlessly! The government and bankers are going to fleece this flock effortlessly. Almost exactly like they have the Greeks, and soon the rest of the Euro nations, Japan, etc, etc. I'm sure you believe that Corzine isn't a crook, and the government works for you and not people like Corzine, Mozillo, etc.

The constitution is a framework for government. It lists individual rights the writers wanted the people to have. Mr. McCheese is maybe a future appointee to the supreme court? They have been interpreting and amending the constitution for many years. Had McCheese been there it would have all been figured out by now. I will be waiting for the Hamburgler to appoint you and the Fry Guys to confirm you.

Thanks WTF. I'm not sure I would want to be one of the Supremes though.

The Constitution is more than simply a framework, it has actual words that were written by our Founding Fathers. Yes, it has been interpreted over the years, but the basis for that inrterpretation is written into the document. This principle of judicial review has been validated by every SC justice and evey govenment since the earliest case (Marbuy v. Madison).

I only mention this because there is actually a great misunderstanding among many peoole of what the Constituion actually says. It is far more than a framework, and has been ammended several times since the founding. It was in fact designed to be amended and its writers expected it to be that way.

Actually, you may be surprised to learn that the Constitution, on its signing actually TOOK AWAY many of the "state's rights" that a lot of the Right Wingers preach about. The Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation which was much more consistent with the concept of State's Rights. It wasn't working which is why they replaced it with the Constitution.

Like you, I am not a Baby Boomer either. I'm a lot younger. And, I actually do believe that Corzine has some explaining to do - his is either a crime or gross negligence - either way, given his experience, he ought to be in some very hot water.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

McCheese,
I'm not so sure that the constitution was designed to be amended. I believe that there are principles written into it that the writers knew if not followed would lead to the same situation they left.

Corzine is a criminal. Had you or I run a brokerage and seg funds turned up missing? I promise you one thing. We would be wearing orange.

I'm not going to have a constitutional debate here. The bottom line is the Gov needs to take a step back. If none of the faucets in my home work and I run the hose in the window for water. What business is it of the Gov? It is MY OPINION that the Gov should not have the right to force me to connect to a sewer or force me to do anything else as long as I'm not causing harm to another human being.

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot:

McCheese,
I'm not so sure that the constitution was designed to be amended. I believe that there are principles written into it that the writers knew if not followed would lead to the same situation they left.

Corzine is a criminal. Had you or I run a brokerage and seg funds turned up missing? I promise you one thing. We would be wearing orange.

I'm not going to have a constitutional debate here. The bottom line is the Gov needs to take a step back. If none of the faucets in my home work and I run the hose in the window for water. What business is it of the Gov? It is MY OPINION that the Gov should not have the right to force me to connect to a sewer or force me to do anything else as long as I'm not causing harm to another human being.

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

I certainly do understand the Libertarian perspective and it is seductive. It works best if you live out on your own in the middle of nowhere. No one will force you to connect to a sewer or to cut your grass once in a while, or make sure you have a permit if your want to build a second story on your house, etc. . .

When you choose to live among a community of people, you by necesity enter into a Social Contract Perhaps your beef is not so much related to the Constitution but rather with people like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau - the basic idea that you have been involuntarilly entered into a Social Contract and you don't like it. By living amung us, you (and everyone else) has agreed to abide by certain rules and accept corresponding duties - in exchange for your participation in society. On balance, I would rather live among us (even with some of the cranky people who post on these sites). Sometimes I like what WE do and sometimes I don't.

I wish you well WTF. I'm off on vacation.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to Mayor_McCheese:

I certainly do understand the Libertarian perspective and it is seductive. It works best if you live out on your own in the middle of nowhere. No one will force you to connect to a sewer or to cut your grass once in a while, or make sure you have a permit if your want to build a second story on your house, etc. . .

When you choose to live among a community of people, you by necesity enter into a Social Contract Perhaps your beef is not so much related to the Constitution but rather with people like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau - the basic idea that you have been involuntarilly entered into a Social Contract and you don't like it. By living amung us, you (and everyone else) has agreed to abide by certain rules and accept corresponding duties - in exchange for your participation in society. On balance, I would rather live among us (even with some of the cranky people who post on these sites). Sometimes I like what WE do and sometimes I don't.

I wish you well WTF. I'm off on vacation.

Enjoy!

islandgma writes:

A little off topic wouldn't you say boys?

Hemanor writes:

It would be nice if code enforcement would go after unlicensed contractors and homeowners that hire these guys.
PROTECT YOURSELF HIRE A LICENSED CONTRACTOR!

Marco-Bob writes:

In a previous life the city I lived in would notify you once (maybe twice) if you where in violation of any local and/or state laws. You were given a specific time frame to remedy the situation. If not done they would come in take care of it themselves and put the costs on your tax bill. If the taxes didn't get paid you stood a very good chance of lossing your property at a sheriff's auction. I recently purchased property like that where all I had to do was pay the back taxes. The property owner had 1 year to compensate me (plus 10%) and could get it back. Otherwise the deed is signed over. Maybe Marco could take that approach.

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