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Date of Issue: October 06, 2005

Anna Maria fence in code board limbo

Anna Maria resident Mark English of 776 N. Shore Drive doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.

The city's code enforcement board deadlocked 2-2 last July on whether or not he had committed a code violation because his fence may or may not have exceeded the height restriction.

At that time, Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon said a tie vote allowed the property to continue as it is without any correction. The board decided to re-vote on the case at its upcoming Oct. 10 meeting, but agreed that the absent board member should not be involved in the proceedings. Another tie vote would have resulted in no action against English.

Now, however, City Attorney Jim Dye is recommending the entire board rehear the case.

English wants to laugh because the city doesn't seem to know what it wants to do.

He wants to cry because he's already spent $8,000 in legal fees in the process and now may have to go through the entire hearing process again - at further expense.

"I'm opposed to rehashing this case," said English. "If the city does not want to accept the decision of a four-member board, then the city should not have set the meeting in July knowing only four members would be present," he argued.

Further, said English, "I should not bear any more financial burden because the city wants to avoid another possible split vote. There are provisions for split decisions and that is to default in favor of the property owner."

Rathvon said yesterday she did not yet know if the case would be reheard on Oct. 10. She had just returned from vacation and had not yet had time to confer with Dye on the issue.

She also said she did not yet know if a code violation complaint for a fence height violation at 801 N. Shore Drive had been filed. A complaint letter about the property was given to city hall last week, but Rathvon was still sifting through documents and issues needing her attention Tuesday and had not yet found the complaint. She said she should know by today if a complaint had been formally lodged.