Special Magistrate Hearing Minutes

Minutes of the December 14, 2023, 10:30 a.m.
Special Magistrate Hearing

The regular meeting of the Special Magistrate was held in the Town Hall Commission Chambers at 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida.

Town Staff Present

Lori Crain, Senior Code Enforcement Officer; Denise Williams, Code Enforcement Officer; Robert Chausse, Lady Lake Police Department; and Carol Osborne, Deputy Town Clerk

Call To Order

Joshua Bills, Special Magistrate, called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m.

Pledge of Allegience

All present stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Explanation of Procedure

Special Magistrate Joshua Bills explained to the public that this is a quasi-judicial hearing, which means that he has not seen or heard any evidence or testimony from staff or outside parties, other than cases that have been continued from a public meeting, as this would be in violation of ex-parte rules. He explained that staff will present their case and testimony, and he will ask any questions he deems necessary. At that time, the owner or interested party will be able to present their testimony or evidence and staff will have an opportunity to rebut. The Respondent(s) have the right to represent and question their own witnesses and any witnesses testifying against them and introduce exhibits. The Special Magistrate is also permitted to ask questions of either party and/or witnesses, if desired.

Evidence submitted as an exhibit to any case, such as pictures and written statements, will become a permanent part of the case and made part of the record. Once part of the record, it is possible that these items will not be returned to the Respondent(s).

Please be aware that electronic submittals, such as pictures on your phone, cannot be made a part of the record. All items included in the record must be in a hardcopy or printed format.

All testifying witnesses shall be sworn in by the Clerk.

The Special Magistrate advised that all testimony is to be directed to him only.

The Special Magistrate has the discretion to continue a hearing at any time and may request additional information from either party. If a hearing is continued, a date certain for the continued hearing shall be announced at the public hearing.

Upon completion of all the evidence the cases will be closed for public comment, and he will render his decision on each of the cases. The Special Magistrate will then immediately deliberate in open session before the public and will render his decision on the case.

Persons demonstrating disruptive or disorderly behavior at meetings or violating established rules of order will be called to order. If such conduct continues, a recess may be called and a request for the removal of such person(s) from the chambers upon a finding of “disorder”, adjourn the meeting if determined to be the appropriate action, or take such other appropriate action as permitted by law.

Although the public is welcome at the meetings of the Special Magistrate, they shall not be allowed to participate in or address the Special Magistrate during deliberation.

Violators shall contact Code Enforcement to confirm compliance. Upon notification by the code inspector that the Order of Enforcement has not been complied with by the time stated in the ruling, the Special Magistrate may execute an Order of Imposing Fine in the amount set forth. 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 and or business. 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. In some cases, fines will be recorded as a lien if not paid. The Respondent or business owner will receive a copy of the order regarding their case.

Swearing In

The Special Magistrate requested that anyone present who planned to speak at today’s hearing stand and be sworn in.

All individuals who planned to present information during the proceedings were sworn in. Those cases were heard first regardless of their order on the agenda.

A. Approval of Minutes

Minutes of the October 24, 2023, Special Magistrate Hearing

The Special Magistrate accepted and signed the minutes of October 24, 2023, into the record as presented.

Senior Code Enforcement Officer, Lori Crain, advised the following amendments to the agenda: Case 23-001505 is incorrect on the agenda as, Order of Fine; it should be, Amend Order of Enforcement; Case 23-001172 has come into compliance; Case 23-001268 has been granted an extension, and will not be presented; Case 23-002339, No notices were received by the owners. Ms. Crain advised that even though the property has been posted, another address has been located where the notices will be sent in anticipation for compliance, and this case will not be presented.

B. Old Business

1. Case 23-000970 — 104 Mark Ave., — Nuisances, Section 7-46, Storage of junk, etc., prohibited; Section 7-67, Trash, weeds, vegetation; Outside Storage — Section LDR 9-2(h)(1), Residential uses; Home Occupations — Section LDR 9-3(c)(1), Vehicle Repair; Fire Codes — Section LDR 16-2(d)(1), Bonfires and Outdoor Rubbish Fires; Order to Amend Fine (Denise Williams)

Ms. Williams presented the background summary for this agenda item and stated that upon reinspection the property has been brought into compliance.

Ms. Williams reported that Mr. Williams stressed that the property would have been brought into compliance prior to the comply date of the Order of Enforcement if he had known sooner. He stated to Ms. Williams that the Order of Enforcement was the first notice he received as one of his children had disposed of the previous notices.

Staff recommendation is to reduce the Order of Fine to $25 and waive the administrative fee.

The Special Magistrate stated that nobody was present to speak regarding this case.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the recommendation from Town staff, the accrued fine of $5,400.00 in this case will be reduced to the amount of $25.00. The Fine shall be paid by 6:00PM Wednesday, January 10, 2024. Furthermore, it is Ordered that the $150.00 administrative fee associated with the Order of Fine hearing is hereby waived. The Respondent will receive a copy of the full Order. 

2. Case 23-001505 — 225 Skyline Dr., Harold P. Donle — Building Permit — Section LDR 16-52(a), Permit required; Nuisances — Section 7-46, Storage of junk, etc., prohibited; Amend Order of Enforcement (Lori Crain)

Ms. Crain presented the background summary for this agenda item. She advised that the Respondent has not complied with the Order of Enforcement dated October 24, 2023. To date, the property remains noncompliant.

Ms. Crain stated that on December 11, Mr. Donle presented her with evidence that he was hospitalized on the date of the October hearing, and that he has continued to have medical issues, yet wants to resolve the violation issues. Ms. Crain stated that she explained to Mr. Donle what needs to be completed to bring the property into compliance.

Staff recommendation: find that the Respondent remains in violation of stated code and LDR; waive the administrative fee of $150 from today’s hearing; Respondent shall pay the $150 administrative fee from the Order of Enforcement hearing of October 24, 2023; Request to amend the Order of Enforcement signed and dated on October 24 with the following: Respondent shall have until 5:00 PM, Tuesday, January 30, 2024, to bring the property into compliance or $25/day fine will begin to accrue on January 31, 2024, until such time as the property comes into compliance.

Nobody was present to speak regarding this case.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the evidence and testimony in this case the $150 administrative fee in the matter on 12/14/23 is hereby waived. Respondent is required to pay the outstanding administrative fee of $150 for the Order of Enforcement hearing of 10/24/23. The Respondent shall have until 5:00 PM, January 30, 2024, to bring the property into compliance to cure the violation(s), including payment of all costs, or $25 daily fine will begin to accrue January 31, 2024. The Respondent shall receive a copy of the full Order.

3. Case 23-001982 — 930 HWY 466, Lady Lake FL PROPCO LLC — Building Permit Section LDR 16-52(a), Permit Required; Order of Fine (Lori Crain)

Ms. Crain presented the background summary for this agenda item. She stated that since the October 24, 2023, hearing, Greg Ainsworth, representing the Respondent came to town hall on November 13 inquiring if a contractor had applied for the required permits. He also inquired that, if there was a fine, would he need to attend the Special Magistrate hearing in December. Ms. Williams spoke with him and confirmed that no paperwork has been received and that Mr. Ainsworth will need to appear at the Order of Fine hearing in December. She suggested to Mr. Ainsworth to obtain a contractor that would apply for the after-the-fact permit by taking on the liability for the work performed.

Ms. Crain stated that on Dec. 12, 2023, Coral Dimaggio, the new interim administrator of the care facility met with her to review the case and discuss what needed to be done to bring the property into compliance.

Ms. Crain stated that she was contacted by Frank Ricci, HRD Construction, inquiring about what is required to bring the property into compliance, including fees.

Staff recommendation: Find Respondent in violation of the Town of Lady Lake Order of Enforcement dated 10/24/23, assess $150 administrative fee, impose a fine of $7500 which is the total accrued to date of the $250/daily fine, which will continue to accrue until compliance is obtained. Further order the Respondent to pay the remaining outstanding Fire Inspection fees of $280. All fees and fines to be paid in full by 5:00 p.m., Monday January 8, 2024, or all will be recorded as a lien against the property.

Ms. Crain advised that prior to today’s hearing, Ms. Dimaggio presented her with the required documentation from a contractor.

Coral Dimaggio, administrator of Lady Lake Senior Living, stated that when she was handed this case recently, she contacted Ms. Crain immediately to discuss the details and what needs to be completed. After receiving all of the background information from Ms. Crain, she contacted Mr. Ricci.

Ms. Dimaggio stated that Brandon James Construction will complete the plans and apply for the permits. She stated that the contractor informed her that the work will be done after the holidays. Ms. Dimaggio stated that the fines have been accruing daily since November 24, and requested that the fines cease to accrue because she obtained a contractor to complete the work.

Ms. Crain stated that Ms. Dimaggio asked for the fines’ reduction just prior to today’s hearing. She stated that she is open to discussing this and that the fines are a lien being recorded.

The Special Magistrate stated that he is not inclined to consider a reduction in fines because this is a life-safety issue. He stated that he will reconsider any reduction in fines after the work is completed and the property has come into compliance.

Ms. Dimaggio asked if the $7500 fine must be paid by Jan. 8 since the contractor cannot begin work until after the holidays.

Ms. Crain stated that she is open to extending the due date and requested that the outstanding administrative fees be paid promptly.

The Special Magistrate stated that he will extend the due date to pay the fines. He stated if the property comes into compliance, he is willing to reconsider a reduction in fines at a future hearing.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the evidence and testimony in this case the Respondent shall pay a fine in the amount of $250.00 per day commencing on December 01, 2023, for each day that property is not in compliance and shall continue to accrue at the daily rate until such time as the property is brought into compliance. Impose an administrative fee of $150.00. All fines and fees shall be paid by 5:00 PM Monday, February 8, 2024. The Respondent shall receive a copy of the full Order.  

New Business

4. Case 23-001172 — 424 South Old Dixie Hwy, Billy R. Whitehead — Nuisances Section 7-67, Trash, Weeds, Vegetation; Order of Enforcement (Denise Williams)

This case has come into compliance.

5. Case 23-001268 — 205 Ann St., Heather Clark — Minimum Standards General Structure Specifications Section 20-19(f), Structures Free from Infestations; Fences Walls in Good Condition; Nuisances Section 7-46, Storage of Junk, etc., Prohibited; Section 7-67, Trash, Weeds, Vegetation; Minimum Standards maintenance/Appearance Section 20-20(a)(3), Off-Street Parking Surfaces; Section 20-20(c), Yards, Vegetations, Hazards; Right-of-Way General Regulations LDR Section 15-113(i), Restored to Original Condition; LDR Building Permit Section 16-52(a), Permit Required; Minimum Standards Maintenance/Appearance Section 20-20(a)(1), Exterior Surfaces Maintained Adequately; Order of Enforcement (Denise Williams)

This case will not be presented.

6. Case 23-001284 — 609 Summit St., Robert A. and Tina M. Nelson — Minimum Standards General Structures Specifications Section 20-19(f); Structures Free from Infestations; Fences, Walls in Good Condition; Nuisances Section 7-46, Storage of Junk, etc., Prohibited; Section 7-67, Trash, Weeds, Vegetation; Outside Storage Section LDR 9-2(h)(1), Residential Use; Order of Enforcement (Denise Williams)

Ms. Williams presented the background summary for this agenda item stating that the violations were initially observed in December 2022, yet the case was not opened due to large caseloads and numerous requests to the property owner for voluntary compliance. To date, several notices have been returned and the property remains noncompliant.

Staff recommendation is to find the Respondents in violation of the Town of Lady Lake’s Code of Ordinances, Section 7-46, Section 7-67, Section 20-19(f); and LDR Section 9-2(h)(1) and impose an administrative fee of $150 and allow the Respondent until January 6, 2024, to bring the property into compliance or a fine of $100 per day will begin to accrue until the property comes into complete compliance.

Tina Nelson, 609 Summit St., Lady Lake, stated that she left the area a few years ago and has recently returned. She stated did not know the extent of the debris in the yard because she did not receive any of the notices. She recently received one notice and contacted Ms. Williams advising her of this.

Ms. Nelson stated that the occupant of the residence has limited mobility, and it is difficult for him to work outside. She stated that he did not inform her of today’s hearing until this morning.

Ms. Nelson stated that when she saw the property not long ago, she had help cleaning it and is requesting more time to bring the property into compliance. She stated that she is willing to work with Ms. Williams to ensure this matter is taken care of.

Ms. Williams stated that she is willing to extend the comply by date to February 9, 2024.

The Special Magistrate encouraged Ms. Nelson to stay in contact with code enforcement.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the evidence and testimony in this case the Respondent has been found in violation of the cited codes and shall pay all costs associated with this matter in the amount of $150.00. The Respondent shall have until 5:00 PM February 9, 2024, to bring the property into compliance, including payment of all costs, or a daily fine of $100.00 will begin to accrue on February 10, 2024, and will continue to accrue until the property comes into compliance. The Respondent shall receive a copy of the full Order.

7. Case 23-002339 — 1743 West Schwartz Blvd., Jorge L. and Patricia L. Rivera — Building Permit Section LDR 16-52(a), Permit Required; Order of Enforcement (Lori Crain)

This case will not be presented.

8. Case 23-002719 — 860 Avenida Central, Maniscalco Holding, LLC — Commercial Minimum Standards Section 20-51(b), Exterior/Interior Conditions; Section 20-51(j), Disposal of Garbage/Trash/etc., Nuisances Section 7-67, Trash, Weeds, Vegetation; Responsibilities of Owners Section 20-54(a), Commercial Clean and Safe; Repeat Offender (Lori Crain)

Ms. Crain presented the background summary for this agenda item stating that she observed several violations that had been previously cited on this property.

Ms. Crain stated that she contacted the property owner, Linda Lupo, to discuss the violations. Ms. Lupo relayed that she and the store manager had already walked the property and noted what areas needed attention. Ms. Crain acknowledged that it was mutually agreed the standing water issue could be associated with the road widening project immediately adjacent to the CVS property.

Ms. Crain advised that after significant cooperation and regular communication with the Respondent and the store staff, she ceased the $500 daily fine from accruing on November 8, 2023.

Staff recommendation: find Respondents in repeat violation of stated sections; impose $150 administrative fee and enter a fine of $4000.00, the total of $500/day for every day the property was in violation. Fine and fee to be paid by 1/8/24, or Order of Fine will be recommended to record as a lien against the property.

Brian Belemjian, District Leader, stated that they appreciate Ms. Crain working with them and keeping them apprised of issues. He stated that they identified the issue with the trash enclosure and staff have been diligently keeping up with cleaning the trash dumpster area. He acknowledged he is aware that Ms. Crain has been in contact with the facilities manager and the landscaping that is planned is delayed due to the road construction project.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the evidence and testimony in this case the Respondent has been found in violation of the cited codes and shall pay all costs associated with this matter in the amount of $150.00; impose a fine in the amount of $4,000 which is the total amount of the daily fine of $500.00 that accrued from 10/31/23 to 11/08/23; all fines and costs shall be paid in full by 5:00PM, Monday, January 8, 2024. The Respondents will receive a copy of the full Order.

9. Case 23-002775 — 710 North Hwy 27/441, ARG RALLAFL001 LLC — Alarms Section 8-200, Owner Responsibility; Section 8-201, Assessment of False Alarm Fee; Order of Enforcement (Lori Crain)

Ms. Crain presented the background summary for this agenda item stating the Respondent was established as a Repeat Offender for these cited codes in January 2023.

Ms. Crain stated that she was in communique with Michelle Marlatt, who was present at a previous Special Magistrate hearing for the same cited codes. She advised that Ms. Marlatt contacted local representatives to get the fees paid and to request that this case not be presented.

Ms. Crain advised that she has also been in communique with Ms. Colleen Robertson, who stated that she had been out of the country when this false alarm incident occurred, she accepted responsibility and requested that this case not be presented at the Special Magistrate hearing.

Ms. Crain explained to Ms. Roberton that this must be presented to the Special Magistrate because he must allow for due process, and he ultimately determines the amount of the fine. Ms. Crain advised Ms. Robertson that she would request to waive the $150 administrative fee. Ms. Crain stated that she encouraged Ms. Robertson to pay the delinquent false alarm fee as soon as possible.

Staff recommendation: find the Respondents in repeat violation of the sections stated, waive the $150 administrative fee in this matter and impose a fine in the amount of $500 to be paid by 12/28/23, or an Order of Fine will be recommended.

The Special Magistrate asked if there was anyone present who wished to speak regarding this case.

Colleen Robertson, Outback restaurant manager, acknowledged that there were several false alarm issues with this location prior to her becoming manager, and that she has worked with the vendor addressing the incorrect codes.

Ms. Robertson advised that while she was out of the country, a pipe burst in the ceiling, which triggered the alarm due to movement.

The Special Magistrate asked Ms. Robertson if she could produce evidence of the burst pipe.

Ms. Robertson stated that the kitchen manager submitted a work order the morning of the incident. She stated that it did not occur to her to bring a copy of the work order with her this morning and could submit a copy of the work order.

The Special Magistrate asked Ms. Crain for her recommendation on this matter.

Ms. Crain stated that this is the first time she has heard Ms. Robertson’s information of this pipe bursting incident. She stated that the alarm fees were paid promptly, as she requested.

The Special Magistrate stated that this is truly an accident.

The Special Magistrate stated that based on the evidence and testimony in this case the $150.00 administration fee is hereby waived in this matter. The Respondents shall pay a fine in the amount of $250 for repeat violation of the stated codes. The fine shall be paid by 5:00 PM December 28, 2023. The Respondent shall receive a copy of the full Order.

D. Discuss November and December Special Magistrate Hearing dates.

The Special Magistrate hearing scheduled for November 28, 2023, is cancelled.

The December Special Magistrate hearing is rescheduled to Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 10:30 a.m.

Adjourn

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 p.m.

s/ Joshua E. Bills, Special Magistrate

s/ Carol Osborne, Deputy Town Clerk