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David Persson is attorney for the town of Longboat Key.
Longboat Key Friday, Oct. 15, 2010 7 years ago

Town attorney responds to Code Enforcement challenge

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Longboat Key Town Attorney David Persson responded to resident James Armstrong’s claims that administrative costs that the town assessed are in violation of state statute.

Armstrong, who is challenging the ruling in Sarasota County court, was ordered to pay $2,178.50 in administrative costs and a fine of $50 a day, which has continued to accrue since Aug. 7, after the Longboat Key Code Enforcement Board ruled that he had updated his home, located in the 2900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive, without obtaining the necessary permits.

“State and local law requires that all significant construction must have a building permit,” Persson wrote Thursday in an e-mail. “This is to ensure that those who may use the property, whether they are family, guests, or subsequent unsuspecting owners, are reasonably protected from hidden dangers or defects. On coastal barrier communities, permits are required to ensure that in the event of a hurricane, your property doesn’t cause additional damage to your neighbors.

"For the past 55 years, the town has had zoning requirements," he said. "The purposes of zoning are many, but not the least of which are to ensure that open space, lot coverage, bulk and height are uniformly applied throughout a zoning district to achieve an aesthetically pleasing and safe community.”

Persson wrote that a Sept. 29 report sent to Armstrong by Code Enforcement said Armstrong’s effort to obtain a building permit were not sufficient and that as of Oct. 14, the $50-a-day fine will continue to accrue.

“The purpose of Code Enforcement is to achieve compliance with the code,” Persson wrote. “Once that is done, and if you want to have the town reduce the fines and costs, I strongly encourage you to appear before the town Commission for that request. But until you obtain the building permit for the work illegally constructed, there doesn’t appear to be anything to talk about.”

In correspondence with the town, Armstrong has cited a 2008 case, Stratton v. Sarasota County, which he said upholds his position that the town is not permitted to pass through payroll expenses as administrative costs. Persson wrote he does not believe that the Stratton case prohibited assessment or collection of these costs but is reluctant to argue the matter because of the pending court case.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].


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