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Date of Issue: February 27, 2008

Code board rules against landlord

The Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Board last week ruled that the owner of a triplex on Marina Way violated city regulations for failing to obtain permits for plumbing, electrical and window installations.

The board, meeting for nearly three hours Feb. 21 at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, also found that David J. Sandoro violated the city’s anti-nuisance code in regard to weeds and debris at the rental property.

The board had begun its review of alleged violations at the property in the 6200 block of Marina Way on Dec. 20, 2007, but continued the hearing due to questions and an interest in resolving the situation amicably. Board members had agreed that they wanted an opportunity for city staff to return to the property or for the property owner to provide additional information.

That decision in December came after a 90-minute hearing on allegations that repair work in an apartment at the site took place without a permit. The municipal code, in conjunction with Florida law, requires that a state-licensed contractor with permits perform work within a rental unit.

The case originated in September, when Holmes Beach code enforcement officer Nancy Hall received a complaint that non-permitted work took place in three apartments and a shed at the triplex owned by Sandoro of Longboat Key.

Hall and city building inspector Bob Shaffer went out to inspect the property with Sandoro. She told the code enforcement board that there were no violations recorded in two apartments, but there was a problem with a window in a third unit and a concern with electrical and plumbing service to a washer and dryer in the shed.

Both city employees said Sandoro told them he had hired a handyman to replace the window, including the glass and the frame. That work, according to Hall, should have been done by a licensed contractor and the work required a permit. Shaffer added that the window lacked proper anchors.

The concern with the electrical and plumbing service in the shed was that a washer and dryer hookup had been recently added, also without a permit.

Hall said that during her initial visit, she and Shaffer told Sandoro they wanted to make a second inspection. But that second inspection never occurred. Instead, Sandoro got in touch with his attorney, John Paul Fleck, and they decided to go before the code enforcement board rather than allow city staff to proceed with another inspection of the property.

Sandoro said he felt the complaint was the result of a vindictive neighbor and that he also felt railroaded by the city. He claimed that the washer and dryer hookups in the shed were not new, though the second-hand appliances themselves had been installed not too long ago. He also said that the window frame that the city was concerned with was not new, but rather that the glass in the frame had been replaced in April or May of 2006.

The code board, in December, asked for more information from Sandoro about when work took place and how.

During the Feb. 21 meeting, board members learned that Sandoro, still represented by Fleck, did not allow the city to return for another inspection.

Fleck said he and Sandoro didn’t trust the city inspector to make a fair judgment and that it was Sandoro’s right to refuse the city entry.

“We feel our rights are being violated,” Fleck said, questioning the city’s credibility in the case.

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted 6-1 on a motion finding Sandoro in violation of having unpermitted work done on the rental building and ordered him to obtain permits and come into compliance with city regulations by March 6 or pay a $250 per day fine.

The board then heard the second complaint against Sandoro regarding weeds and debris at the property. Hall testified that the grass had recently been mowed and there were signs that other items were being cleared, but she emphasized that problems in the yard repeatedly crop up and asked the city to find Sandoro in violation, without imposing a fine.

The next code enforcement board meeting will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 13, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

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