MARCO ISLAND — In an act of civil disobedience, Marco Island theater owner Nick Campo refused to renew his grease trap permit. For his failure, Campo was called before the city’s Code Compliance Board Tuesday to explain why.
His plea to the board was simple: There must be a better way to handle compliance. The existing permitting and inspection processes were labor intensive for city staff, he said.
Bill McMullan joined Campo in taking that position.
“The requirements for this very elementary process have gotten very onerous,” he said. “We would like to see a better process, simpler and more streamlined and less time consuming.”
McMullan spoke in defense of Campo. He always met the city’s codes and ordinances, he said, and the theater was in compliance with inspections. Campo had his grease trap permit in hand, lacking only a signature from Bart Bradshaw, the city’s collections and distribution manager.
City ordinance requires all grease traps, interceptors and separators to be permitted and checked for violations. Permits must be acquired annually showing the dates when pumping companies cleaned, pumped out, inspected and maintained each unit.
The ordinance, adopted in October 2008, instructs city staff to follow up with visual inspections annually. The requirements were created to protect the city’s wastewater system.
The problem, Campo said, is that city staff is tracking 60-80 traps per year. With only five companies coming onto the island to pump grease, Campo asked the city to consider using those companies as watchdogs.
“If anyone is not under contract then have them (pumping companies) let the city know if someone is not pumping or not paying their bills,” he said.
Liz Carr, code compliance supervisor, was not in favor of relying on pumping companies for compliance.
“You are the ones who do business with the city. You should do the right thing,” she said.
Lou Prigge, code board chairman, said Campo should work with island restaurants to create a better plan and present it to the city manager. The board agreed to dismiss the case and $150 fine if Campo agreed to get his permit signed.
After the hearing, Campo said he would approach the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce to see if its Government Affairs committee would work with food service owners on a solution.
In other business, the code board mitigated fines in three cases.
Janice Gover, a realtor representing Fannie Mae, requested fine reductions for failure to connect to sewer on a foreclosed property at 107 S. Heathwood Drive. Fines on the property had accrued for 283 days at $250 per day for a total of $70,750.
The bank took title to the property on Sept. 12, 2012, and brought it into compliance on Feb. 19, 2013. The code board reduced fines to $10 per day for 130 days or $1,300. The property is currently on the market and does not have a buyer.
A representative from Iberia bank made the same request for a property at 309 3rd Ave. That property failed to renew a pool building permit for 1,586 days, accruing fines of $396,300 at $250 per day. The bank took title to the property Sept. 10, 2012, and brought it into compliance.
The code board reduced fines to $10 per day for 142 days or $1,420 plus an administration fee of $150. The property currently has a buyer.
Both reduced fines are due to be paid within 60 days.
A fine of $150 for removal of a dumpster at 1615 Ludlow Road was waived entirely because the owners did not receive final notice of violation. They were also unaware that the dumpster removal company had gone out of business.