Circuit judge to Holmes Beach: shake hands and say you’re sorry.
A ruling in March regarding daily fines imposed by the city on what has become an infamous tree house in Holmes Beach required the code enforcement board to grant its owners a stay and send them a letter.
Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan issued an opinion in March halting the city-imposed daily fines on tree house owners Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran during their appeal.
The tree house was constructed without permits on the beachfront at Hazen’s and Trans’s home and rental accommodations known as Angelinos Sea Lodge at 103 29th St.
Code enforcement board attorney Michael Connolly told board members July 17 that the court’s March ruling requires the board to grant Hazen and Tran the stay, and to send a letter notifying the couple that the stay had been granted.
Connolly read the opinion which, except in cases of special circumstances, granted the stay. In the case between the city and the tree house owners, neither party is harmed by the stay and the daily fines infringe on the owners’ appellate rights.
No public hearing was required of the board because the stay was court-ordered, said Connolly. He prepared the letter notifying Hazen and Tran that the board had granted the stay and had board chair Andy Sheridan sign it during the July 17 meeting.
The code enforcement board imposed the fine of $100 a day beginning Sept. 13, 2013, and until such time the tree house is brought into compliance with city and state regulations.
Hazen and Tran have been tangled in a dispute with the city since the first letter of violation was sent to the couple by the city April 5, 2013.
In July 2013, the code enforcement board filed a final administrative order, finding the property owners in violation of the city building codes.
The city found the tree house — which began construction in April 2011 — to be in violation of several city and state codes and to have been built without permits. The violations include the structure being built within the setback for the erosion control line, which is prohibited by state law.
Dunnigan’s order to halt the fine during the appeals process is the latest in the legal battle, responding to Hazen and Tran’s filed petition for writ of certiorari, or motion for review of stay order, filed last October.
The couple initially filed with the code enforcement board to have the fines halted during the appeal, but were denied. The petition essentially appealed the board’s decision, which was overturned by Dunnigan.
Still pending are two cases headed by the city declaring the couple’s petition initiative null and void, and seeking a declaratory judgment that would essentially end the case.
The couple’s appeal of the code enforcement board’s findings and an appeal of the city’s final administrative order to remove the structure or rectify its non-compliant status also awaits further action in court.
Connolly advised board members the fines could be reinstated by the board, depending on the outcome of the appeal.
The city is represented by attorneys Jim Dye and Patricia Petruff of Dye, Deitrich, Petruff and St. Paul, P.L., of Bradenton. Petruff is the attorney of record for the city.