MARCO ISLAND — “Owners beware!” A revised city ordinance passed by Marco Island’s council in November makes property owners accountable for violations by their renters.
On Tuesday, the city’s Code Enforcement Board heard its first public nuisance case since the ordinance was passed.
Liz Carr of code compliance read a litany of one renter’s past transgressions: litter, debris, abandoned furniture and other items, an unlicensed car in the yard and a broken sidewalk. The property is rented at 211 W. Flamingo Circle.
The case before the board addressed the renter’s newest violation: a refrigerator sitting in the driveway.
The property owners’ daughter, Christina Suarez, appeared before the board to plead her parent’s case. The renter, she said, was a single mother. The problems occurred within a 45-day period while the renter had occupied the property for two years with no violations until recently.
Steps had been taken to control the situation, Suarez said. A property manager was hired and the renter told she was creating a problem. The property is now in compliance, Carr confirmed.
Suarez asked the board to be lenient and not label her parents or the renter as repeat offenders.
According to Florida Statutes, once a violator is considered a repeat offender by a code enforcement board, a code inspector is not required to give a reasonable time to correct violations. Fines would start on the day a violation notice was issued rather than after a 30-day compliance period.
Any future violation of the same ordinance within five years would be treated as a repeat offense.
After discussion, the board accepted Suarez’s assurance that remedial steps had been taken. The property owners were charged an administrative fee of $250 but were not labeled repeat offenders.
The board also heard a mitigation case for failure to connect to the city’s sewer system. Fines of $157,000 had accrued from March 2010 on a property located at 640 San Marco Road.
Realtor Gary Hains of Naples said Bank of New York took over the property in September and completed the sewer hookup on Dec. 6. The property is in foreclosure. Hains said the property has a prospective buyer.
In the past, the board reduced accruing fines for “failure to connect” from $250 per day to $10 per day.
“I’ve felt uncomfortable reducing the fine to $10 a day. It’s too generous a mitigation,” said board member Rony Joel. “I would suggest $25 a day instead of the $10 a day.”
The board unanimously agreed to the increase, fining the property $15,700 or $25 per day for 628 days.
Two additional mitigation cases were tabled until plaintiffs could attend.
The board asked Police Chief Don Hunter what could be done about illegal fireworks on New Year’s Eve near the Eagle Sanctuary.
Hunter said officers investigated a home rented by people from Holland. Police officers could not issue a citation because they did not see the offense. Two witnesses of the fireworks were unable to identify the people responsible, he said.
Hunter said he would send a letter to the property owner indicating police have reason to believe fireworks were unlawfully used at the location.
“We can send out a letter like that as an advice item,” Hunter said. “It’s always a good idea to send out information. It creates a record for future use.”