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Date of Issue: December 13, 2007

Anna Maria fire damage blamed on code violations

Owners of the Anna Maria duplex where an accidental fire broke out Nov. 16 have been charged by the city with a number of code violations that contributed to the fire and the resulting $30,000 damage to the home.

Frances Tunkel and Victoria Paul, owners of the duplexes at 300 and 302 N. Shore Drive, were sent a letter Nov. 28 by code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon noting that a kitchen stove involved in the fire had no vent to the outside and was never permitted by the city. Rathvon also said that one of the bedrooms in the same duplex had been installed without a permit and that some of the duct work did not meet the building code.

The fire, which occurred shortly before 10 p.m., has been ruled accidental by West Manatee Fire Rescue District investigators.

But Tunkel and Paul already have an open code violation case with the city from a previous incident, which Rathvon has now combined into one case.

Last summer, Rathvon sent owners Paul and Tunkel a letter stating they were renting commercial storage space at one of the units in violation of the city code. Rathvon also observed in the letter that there were three units at 302 N. Shore Drive, where only two are allowed by code.

As if those weren’t enough problems, Rathvon also cited Tunkel and Paul for having work done at the property by an unlicensed contractor, working without a building permit and for violating the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s criteria for work performed below FEMA’s base-flood elevation.

The violations were to have been corrected by Aug. 15, said Rathvon, but to date, only the rental of the garages to commercial customers has ceased, alleged Rathvon.

Because of the latest incident involving Tunkel and Paul, Rathvon combined the cases to give the owners until Dec. 18 to come into compliance on all violations. If not resolved by that date, Rathvon said she would present a case for violations to the city’s code enforcement board on Jan. 14, 2008.

Tunkel and Paul have to address and correct at least seven code issues noted by Rathvon, and must have the work done by a licensed contractor.

If found guilty of just one code violation, Tunkel and Paul could receive a fine of up to $250 per day for a first violation. The maximum fine for a repeat offense is $500 per day.