Marco did not have a code enforcement hearing in November, high-profile cases left pending

Code Enforcement special magistrate Myrnabelle Roche speaks to the legal representative of Madeira on Marco Island condominium association on Sept. 24.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a new arraignment date scheduled for Dec. 27 in the case of State of Florida vs. Roger Morley Fleming.]

Closer to the end of virtually every month the city of Marco Island's code enforcement magistrate makes judgement on alleged code violations.

In November, it did not happen.

The city chose not to have a hearing because of recent staff changes, according to Captain Dave Baer of the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD). 

"We chose not to based on changes in staffing in November," Baer wrote in an email to the Eagle on Dec. 5. "The Code (Enforcement) Unit's Administrative Assistant resigned."

Heather Comparini, MIPD's records clerk and code employee, submitted her letter of resignation in late October, the Eagle reported.

Comparini had accused the police department and former Police Chief Al Schettino of scapegoating her in the leak of information related to a battery investigation against former City Manager Lee Niblock.

Nearly 21 months after being accused by Schettino, an investigation into Comparini was found to not be substantiated, the Eagle reported in November.

In December, Marco Island City Council approved a $35,000 settlement in the civil rights lawsuit she filed against the city, the Eagle reported.

The city will not have a code enforcement hearing in December, according to Baer.

"Traditionally we have never had December hearings," Baer wrote.

More:Closed-meeting transcript: Employment threats, police lies and the makings of a settlement

High-profile cases left pending

In July, Florida Department of Environmental Protection sent warning letters to the Madeira condominium association and RR Restoration after a department inspection observed damage to dunes, removal of dune vegetation and use of heavy machinery in the area. In the picture, a pile of the removed vegetation was visible on the seaward side of Madeira on July 22, 2019.

The city's decision not to have code enforcement hearings during the last two months of the year means several high-profile cases won't be resolved until 2020.

The Madeira condominium association may be fined after a code enforcement officer observed a contractor cutting foliage without a permit in the dune area of 350 S. Collier Blvd. on Oct. 21, the Eagle reported.

It was not the first time this year Madeira got in trouble for allegedly violating codes set by the city to protect the environment.

In July, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent warning letters to Madeira and another contractor after a department inspection observed damage to dunes, removal of dune vegetation and use of heavy machinery in the area.

Myrnabelle Roche, code enforcement magistrate, issued $1,050 in fines in August against Madeira, RR Restoration and a third contractor for these violations except for the destruction of dunes.

In agreement with the city, Roche has delayed three times issuing fines against Madeira and RR Restoration for the destruction of dunes but ordered them to present a dune restoration plan to the city.

Caleb W. Pringle (left), attorney of the Madeira condo association, speaks to the Marco Island code enforcement magistrate on Sept. 24, 2019. Dennis Kariores (right), operations manager of RR Restoration of Georgia, stands next to Pringle.

Madeira's attorney, Caleb W. Pringle, requested the last continuance on Oct. 29 as the condo association and RR Restoration continued to negotiate the last details of the  restoration plan with the city and DEP, the Eagle reported.

Pringle said at the time they submitted the plan to the city earlier that month.

RR Restoration destroyed the dunes in order to stage a large crane to do roof repairs at Madeira, according to Dennis Kariores, operations manager of the company.

Madeira's alleged violations are not the only ones pending a final decision from Roche.

On Oct. 29, during the last hearing of the year, the city requested a continuance in the case of the realtor who allegedly put mothballs into an owl burrow, the Eagle reported

Marco residents Roger M. and Jacquelyn Fleming are the respondents in this case, according to city documents.

The Flemings are the owners of the empty lot on 1430 Wayne Ave. where the violation took place, according to the Collier County Property Appraiser's website.

A Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission report also identifies Mr. Fleming as the only suspect, the Eagle reported.

Fleming's new arraignment date is scheduled for Dec. 27 at 8:30 a.m., according to Samantha Syoen, communications director at the State Attorney's Office.

"An arraignment is when charges are announced in court," Syoen wrote in an email to the Eagle on Dec. 18.

"Fleming has been charged with one count of Taking, Possessing, or Selling any Endangered or Threatened Species."  

This charge is a second degree misdemeanor, according to Syoen.

The city said it will continue with the code enforcement case against the Flemings.

"We believe there is sufficient evidence to move forward," Baer wrote.

More:Burrowing owls under attack on Marco Island but many fight to protect them

And:Madeira cuts dune vegetation without permits (again), MIPD reports