Marco Island Code Compliance goes on offense to solve public nuisances

Diana Kelly looks over reduced fine amounts as Marco Island's Code Compliance Supervisor Liz Carr calculates what would be owed on a property at 471 Renard Court. The city has a lien on the property currently in foreclosure, but the property has a buyer. Read more about Tuesday's Code Compliance meeting.  Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Diana Kelly looks over reduced fine amounts as Marco Island's Code Compliance Supervisor Liz Carr calculates what would be owed on a property at 471 Renard Court. The city has a lien on the property currently in foreclosure, but the property has a buyer. Read more about Tuesday's Code Compliance meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Among other problems, Marco Island's Code Compliance must deal with unsafe structures like this balcony and railing at 1909 Sheffield Ave. The balcony is easily accessed from outside the home and has been visited by kids, said Liz Carr, Marco Island's code compliance officer. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Among other problems, Marco Island's Code Compliance must deal with unsafe structures like this balcony and railing at 1909 Sheffield Ave. The balcony is easily accessed from outside the home and has been visited by kids, said Liz Carr, Marco Island's code compliance officer. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

An abandoned beach ball floating in this filthy pool speaks volumes about the hard times families experience in foreclosure. This Galleon Court house was cited for code violations at Tuesday's Code Enforcement Board hearing. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

An abandoned beach ball floating in this filthy pool speaks volumes about the hard times families experience in foreclosure. This Galleon Court house was cited for code violations at Tuesday's Code Enforcement Board hearing. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Overgrown with vines and visibly deteriorating, this 1909 Sheffield Ave. home came before Marco Island's Code Compliance Board Tuesday for being a public nuisance. The home had nearly a dozen code violations. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Overgrown with vines and visibly deteriorating, this 1909 Sheffield Ave. home came before Marco Island's Code Compliance Board Tuesday for being a public nuisance. The home had nearly a dozen code violations. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Liz Carr, Marco Island's code compliance officer, listed this lanai cage with tattered screen as unsightly and a public nuisance when she testified before the Code Compliance Board on Tuesday. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Liz Carr, Marco Island's code compliance officer, listed this lanai cage with tattered screen as unsightly and a public nuisance when she testified before the Code Compliance Board on Tuesday. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— It’s a jungle at 1909 Sheffield Ave. Vines creep up stairways, bougainvilleas overrun driveways and weeds cram poolside cracks. The broken lanai door stands slightly ajar, and tattered screens flutter overhead like listless birds in a humid rainforest canopy.

Liz Carr, code compliance supervisor, listed more than nine violations for the Sheffield Avenue property in testimony before Marco Island’s Code Compliance Board Tuesday. Violations included failure to connect to sewer, illegal dumping, overgrown weeds, abandoned boat and trailer, growing disallowed exotics and creating a public nuisance.

“Everything needs to be trimmed,” Carr said, “and kids have been getting into the property. The doors and sliders are wide open.”

Carr saw evidence that animals had been inside the deteriorating structure and a pool cover, once used for protection, was destroyed. She described the pool’s water as black.

It’s a common problem when a property goes into foreclosure. The city does what it can after proper notification of violations to make things right for abutting neighbors. In this case, 15 days after issuance of violation – a grace time for the owner to take action – the city will take move to correct egregious transgressions.

City staff already secured the doors to make sure no one trespasses or is injured in the structure. After the waiting period the city will replace the pool’s cover, chemically treat the pool and trim and mow the property.

The city’s efforts will mitigate the blight, but they come at a price. In other action Monday, Carr said the property at 471 Renard Court had been maintained for three years by the city, and Bank United owed the city more than $6,000 in management fees.

For the Sheffield property, no defendant came forward. For Renard Court, Diana Kelly of Amerivest spoke for the bank. The property had a buyer, but city liens made it impossible to close the deal. Kelly was looking for a reduction in fines that could move the bank to ante up funds and clear the property for sale.

In addition to maintenance, failure to connect to the sewer system within 30 days after a Feb. 14 notification caused fines to mount at $250 per day. Before the hearing, the bank owed $6,000 in accrued fines, $250 in administration fees and $6,266 for maintenance, totaling $12,516.

Board members became attentive as Kelly described her ready-to-close buyer and the bank’s willingness to clear the fines. Just some reduction, a little leniency by the board, and the city would see its money in days, she said. The Renard residence is listed online for sale at $548,300. It last sold for $1,750,000.

Steve Stefanides moved Renard Court fines for failure to connect be decreased to $300. All other costs remained the same resulting in the reduced amount of $6,816. His motion passed by a vote of 7-0.

The board voted to charge another structure on 1109 Dana Court $100 per day for being a public nuisance. The fine covered rotting ceiling tiles and torn screens in the lanai area.

Sheffield’s fines for noncompliance will accumulate at $250 per day with a one-time administration fee of $250 for failure to connect and $250 per day for failure to bring the property into compliance. The Sheffield property is just beginning the fines-accrual journey, and with higher daily amounts, totals will accumulate quickly.

Any money the city spends to maintain the property will be charged above and beyond fines adding to the total’s quick accrual. The motion to start the clock ticking on Sheffield fines passed 7-0.

“The intent of this board is this needs to be corrected,” said Lou Prigge, board chairman. The only power we have is to levy fines, he said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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