Special Magistrate Meeting Minutes
Minutes of the April 23, 2019 10:30 a.m.
Special Magistrate Meeting
The regular meeting of the Special Magistrate was held in the Town Hall Commission Chambers at 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida. The meeting convened at 10:30 a.m.
Town Staff Present
Michelle Bilbrey, Code Enforcement Officer; and Carol Osborne, Staff Assistant
Commissioner Paul Hannan
Call To Order
Valerie Fuchs, Special Magistrate, called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m.
Pledge of Allegience
Approval of Minutes
The Special Magistrate accepted and signed the minutes of February 19, 2019 into the record as presented.
The Special Magistrate requested that anyone present who planned to speak at today’s hearing stand and be sworn in.
Explanation of Procedure
Special Magistrate Valerie Fuchs stated that seeing no one from the public is present she will dispense with the explanation of procedure.
1. Case 18-6977—919 N Hwy 27/441— RBM Capital Investments, Inc. and Mattress One, Inc.—Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulations Chapter 17-5(d)(1) Temporary Signs and Banners
Ms. Bilbrey presented documents regarding her case to the Special Magistrate and presented the case summary as follows:
Ms. Bilbrey explained that the Town of Lady Lake allows for various types of signs, flags and banners to be displayed within the Town limits by permit only. These permits may be obtained up to four times per year, are valid for a maximum of 15 days and limit the size, type and number of signs that may be displayed, for a total of 45 days per calendar year. All signs shall be maintained in good repair. She stated that this particular Mattress One location has been cited on multiple occasions for the violation of displaying one or more feather flags in front of the business without a permit.
Ms. Bilbrey reported that this same business was cited after two feather flags were displayed in front of the business without a permit, Case 18-6862. She stated that a Courtesy Notice of Violation with a compliance date of June 26, 2018 was hand-delivered to the manager on duty, Jeff Wilensky.
- July 30, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey stated one of the two flags was still present in front of this business. A Notice of Violation was hand-delivered to Mr. Wilensky and an affidavit of hand-delivery was completed. She stated that at that time, Mr. Wilensky advised that a corporate official was “working on a permit”. A copy of this notification was sent to the property owner via certified mail. It was signed for on August 1, 2018.
- August 7, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that Mr. Wilensky came into the building department, applied for and was issued a sign permit. The permit was valid from August 7, 2018 to August 21, 2018; Case 18-6977 was closed at that time.
- December 4, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey reported that a torn and tattered feather flag was noticed in front of this business. She stated the Town’s building department records revealed no new permit had been issued for its placement.
- December 11, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey stated photos were taken of the flag in front of this business. A new code enforcement case was opened for this violation, Case 18-6977, citing the following: Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulation Chapter 17-2, Sign Permit Required
- December 12, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that a Statement of Violation was mailed via certified mail to the registered owner of the property as indicated by the property record card. It was signed for on December 18, 2018 by Rafel D. A copy of this notice was hand-delivered to the business location. An affidavit of hand-delivery was completed. She stated that given the nature of the violation and the ability to correct it quickly, the owner was afforded one day to bring the property into compliance.
- December 13, 2018 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that she saw the feather flag still present; a photo was taken. She stated that a Notice of Hearing for January 22, 2019 was created and mailed to the property owner via certified mail. She stated that it was signed for by Jorge M. on December 15, 2018. She reported that she hand-delivered a copy of the hearing notice to the business location and it was accepted by Mr. Wilensky. An affidavit of hand-delivery was completed. Ms. Bilbrey stated at the time of her visit she explained to Mr. Wilensky that even though the flag was pulled the case would still be heard by the Special Magistrate based on the continual repeat offence. She stated when she asked Mr. Wilensky why was it that he refused to remove the flag, his response was that this location is one of the top producing stores and that the flag placement is because the corporate officials want it in front of the store. Ms. Bilbrey explained that it was in violation of the Town’s Land Development Regulations and that it needed to be removed or a permit needed to be obtained. She stated that Mr. Wilensky removed the flag as she was leaving the store.
Ms. Bilbrey stated that due to lack of additional cases, the January Special Magistrate hearing was cancelled.
- January 7, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that an updated Notice of Hearing for the February Special Magistrate hearing was mailed. She advised that the proper legal notification was once again provided by sending this notice via certified mail to the property owner, and hand-delivered to the business location. She stated that she obtained the contact information for Kevin Logue, who is a representative of the property owner, RBM Capital Investments, Inc. and Saleh Abdullah, who is a representative for Mattress One, Inc.’s corporate office. She reported that a copy of the Notice of Hearing was sent to both representatives via email on January 8, 2019.
- February 18, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that she worked an overtime shift on this government holiday. She stated that Mattress One had two feather flags displayed in front of their business. Two date-stamped photos were taken
- February 25, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that as a courtesy, a reminder email was sent to Mr. Logue and Mr. Abdullah regarding the February Special Magistrate hearing. She stated that she also called the store location and spoke with Mr. Wilensky. She stated that Mr. Wilensky advised that he would not be attending the hearing, and that he does not place the flags. He stated a corporate official has someone place the flags.
Ms. Bilbrey stated that while preparing for the Special Magistrate hearing, it was determined that a more suitable Land Development Regulation should have been cited for the existing violation. She stated that prior to the hearing, the property owner and the business owner were both made aware via email that this case would be tabled at the February Special Magistrate hearing.
- February 26, 2019 — At the Special Magistrate hearing, Ms. Bilbrey requested that Case 18-6977 be tabled. There were no representatives for the property or the business present.
- March 11, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey advised that proper notification was given regarding the updated Statement of Violation citing the following: Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulation Chapter 17-5, Temporary Signs and Banners.
Ms. Bilbrey stated that the Statement of Violation was sent via certified mail to both the property owner and the business owner. The notice to RBM Capital Investments was signed for by Jorge Monte on March 14, 2019. The notice mailed to Mattress One, Inc. was signed for on March 16, 2019 by an unknown name. As a courtesy, an email was sent to both Kevin Logue and Saleh Abdullah with a scanned copy of the notification.
- March 19, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey stated Case 18-6977 was put on the April 23, 2019 Special Magistrate agenda and an updated Notice of Hearing for this date was created and sent out via certified mail to both the property owner and the business owner. The notice to RBM Capital Investments was signed for by “Milene Vallejos” on March 21, 2019. The notice mailed to Mattress One, Inc. was returned, unopened, marked “attempted—not known—unable to forward.” As a courtesy, an email also was sent to both Kevin Logue and Saleh Abdullah with a scanned copy of the notification.
- March 25, 2019 — Ms. Bilbrey stated that Mattress One again had two feather flags displayed in front of their business. A photo was taken on this date.
- April 11, 2019 — A copy of this Notice of Hearing was hand-delivered to the business location. It was accepted by Jeff Wilensky.
Ms. Bilbrey reported that feather flags were displayed in front of this business on multiple occasions after notifications of the violation were given. Photos were taken in each of these instances and are included in this case file with the dates indicated.
The property is currently assessed at $1,398,911 per the Lake County Property Appraiser.
Staff’s recommendation is to find that the owner/agent did violate the Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulations Chapter 17-5, Temporary Signs and Banners, establish a case history so that may future violations by be cited as a repeat offense, and impose a $100 fine and an $87 administrative fee to cover costs associated with this case.
The Special Magistrate asked if the business is currently in compliance.
Ms. Bilbrey stated she did not conduct a site visit this morning. She stated that the signs come and go. She stated that believes the flags are placed when the store officials feel she is not working, and that she notices them by chance.
The Special Magistrate asked if there was anyone present who wished to speak on this case.
Commissioner Paul Hannan requested to speak as a resident of the Town of Lady Lake. He proceeded to ask the Special Magistrate if the business could be shut down due to continuous violations.
The Special Magistrate clarified that the only information she is considering is relative to this case under her purview as a Special Magistrate, which is guided by Florida Statute Chapter 162. She explained that she is limited to hearing testimony and evidence regarding whether a violation of the Town’s code has occurred, and if so, providing reasonable time for the violation to come into compliance and imposing a fine if compliance is not met. She stated the question posed by Commissioner Hannan should be directed to Town counsel.
Special Magistrate Valerie Fuchs stated that based on the sworn testimony and evidence presented on Case 18-6977 at this hearing, including photographs, she did find that the owner was in violation of the Town of Lady Lake Land Development Regulations Chapter 17-5, Temporary Signs and Banners. The property is hereby established as a Repeat Offender should future violations occur. A $100 fine is imposed, as well as an $87 administrative fee, both to be paid within 10 days of this date. The violator has 10 days to come into compliance.
The violator shall contact Code Enforcement to confirm compliance. Upon notification by the code inspector that this Order of Enforcement has not been complied with by the time stated above, the Special Magistrate may execute an Order of Imposing Fine in the amount set forth above. A copy of the Order Imposing Fine shall be mailed to the Violator. A certified copy of the Order Imposing Fine may be recorded as a lien against the property. A hearing is not statutorily required for the issuance of the Order Imposing Fine. The violator has a right to request a hearing on the fine imposition by written request to the Town of Lady Lake within twenty days of the commencement of the fine. The Order Imposing Fine shall advise the Violator of that right. When requested, such a hearing will be heard by the Special Magistrate. The property owner will get a copy of this order.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:47 a.m.
s/ Carol Osborne, Staff Assistant to the Town Clerk
s/ Valerie Fuchs, Special Magistrate
Note: The original signed documents are on file at the Town Clerk's office. Copies are available upon request.
Minutes transcribed by Carol Osborne, Staff Assistant to the Town Clerk