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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 14, 2010 7 years ago

Code Enforcement staff builds case for challenge

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Town officials allege that Key resident James Armstrong installed updates to his home without obtaining the necessary building permits. But at the Longboat Key Code Enforcement Board’s meeting Monday, July 12, Armstrong took issue with what types of work had been performed at his home, located in the 2900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive, and whether he needed to obtain permits.

Sarasota attorney Bill Pomeroy, who represented the town in the case, presented testimony at the meeting from Code Enforcement Officer Heidi Micale, Building Inspector Tony Sapuppo and Interim Building Official John Fernandez about the ongoing case.

According to testimony and case notes, Micale received a call on April 15 from an electrician who had been hired to work on Armstrong’s property and wanted to know if Armstrong had obtained permits for the project. Micale found no active permits, and the most recent permit for the property was dated June 19, 2009, and was voided because Armstrong had never picked it up. After receiving the call, Micale and Sapuppo visited the property and “observed a large, construction Dumpster with a ladder leaning against it and a black construction-type trailer,” according to case notes.

Because the house is surrounded by concrete walls and a gate, Micale said she and Sapuppo weren’t able to knock on the front door, and they didn’t get an answer when they pushed a button on the gate’s keypad to call the owner. Sapuppo noticed that the plywood ceiling on the lanai roof appeared to be new, and Micale climbed up the ladder leaning against the Dumpster and took photos of items on the property, including an electrical wire, wooden planks and a portion of the main sewer metal drain.

Case notes state that Armstrong responded to a message from Micale and agreed to allow her to come to his property for inspection. At a later meeting, town officials made a preliminary list of work that they said had been done on the home without permits, including walls, windows, pool cage, electrical alterations, a new shed, a cage with a wooden rooftop and fan and plumbing.

On May 25, Micale prepared a notice of code violation when she found that Armstrong had still not submitted a building-permit application.

According to case notes, Armstrong said that the town’s website provided contradictory information about permitting issues, and he told Micale that staff members misrepresented permitting requirements.

Testifying at the hearing, Armstrong said that the shed in question is “a modified version of the old one,” and denied placing new windows in the house or removing floors or railings. He said that he intends to obtain necessary permits but wants clarity and doesn’t feel that he should have to provide access to his residence. He also accused town staff of trespassing to obtain photographic evidence.

“There’s some serious violations of my rights as a property owner here,” he said.

After the testimony, the Code Enforcement Board approved a motion to return to the case at its August meeting for consideration of fines and to address the compliance issue.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]

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