Anna Maria looks to remedy contractor, building problems

Anna Maria city commissioners took aim Sept. 10 at Shawn Kaleta’s building activities — as well as the activities of other contractors who allegedly damage city property or violate building codes.

Kaleta, a builder/developer who has his office in Holmes Beach and resides in Anna Maria, developed five vacation rental homes in the block behind the former IGA store, now Ginny’s and Jane E’s at the Old IGA.

The commission voted 4-0 to authorize city attorney Becky Vose to resolve a $16,800-$17,000 claim against Kaleta for damaging city property on Magnolia Avenue.

And commissioners asked Vose to research how the city could amend its ordinances to better enforce building laws against developers who flaunt them.

According to Mayor Dan Murphy, Kaleta acknowledged his responsibility for damage to the stormdrain system in a March 3 letter.

In the document, he agreed to sidewalk repairs and culvert and ditch installations on Magnolia Avenue. He also agreed to pay for the Magnolia Avenue rear alley restoration near North Shore Drive.

The storm drains were crushed by heavy equipment as crews prepared the lots for construction, according to Murphy, despite instructions to use caution.

Aaron Thomas, representing builder Beach to Bay Construction and Kaleta, told the commission he’d sent the city a letter about the issue, looking for more information but had not heard back.

After the meeting, Thomas said, “We’re not taking a position. We just want to have a conversation and try to figure it out.”

He maintains that haven’t ruled anything out.

Murphy and Commission Chair Chuck Webb said the city could make a claim against a $25,000 bond. The city agenda gave notice of authorizing a suit on ten, the city can enforce its building laws by filing a lawsuit or having violators arrested, saying neither is a good option.

“We’ve got a couple contractors that do work in the city that are consistently in violation of their building permits, red tags — they’re just thumbing their noses at us,” said Webb.

He blamed the problem on ordinances without teeth.

The mayor agreed.

Murphy said the city’s red-tag problem started in late December and “has continued to escalate.”

A red tag requires all work be halted until the alleged violation is corrected to the city’s satisfaction.

The mayor described instances of contractors working after two and three tags were posted. Some contractors “don’t even bother to pull the red tag down” and continue to work, he added.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said Vose’s research should examine what’s worked in other cities.

Commissioner Carol Carter and Copeland suggested the city report repeat violators to the state business license regulators.

Vose agreed to look into the commissioners’ concerns. Commissioner Nancy Yetter was absent with an excuse, according to city clerk Diane Percycoe.

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