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Code violators face civil fines, fees to appeal

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Apr 5, 2024

Cape Coral property owners who fail to follow the city’s health and safety codes now face civil fines and fees should they want to appeal the ticket.

Cape Coral City Council approved an ordinance amendment for code compliance on Wednesday that provides for the fines with a companion resolution establishing a $250 fee for those who request a special magistrate to appeal a notice of violation for specific conditions on private real property.

Ordinance 19-24 amends the city’s code of ordinances that prohibit conditions on private real property. The amendment allows “for the issuance of a notice of violation with a civil fine for violations,” for violations that include obnoxious growth, refuse and litter; dangerous building or structure; stagnant water; sidewalk repair and storage of junk.

Code Compliance Manager Todd Hoagland said the civil fine on five areas is a deviation from the current process. He said individuals have two choices — pay the civil fine as indicated on the notice of violation or request an administrative hearing to appeal notice within 10 days before the special magistrate.

There are four different levels of violations. The first penalty is $150; second violation within one year is $500, third violation within one year is $1,000 and fourth violation within one year is $2,000.

The ordinance includes an amendment on the way they deliver the notices, Hoagland said. Those include certified mail, hand delivery, leaving notice at the violator’s usual place of residence or leaving notice with the manager of an establishment.

The goals are to reduce the amount of time from observing the violation, notify the responsible person of the violation, establishing a swift penalty if the violation is not corrected and creating an ability for the city to rapidly correct the violation.

“Using this process shortens the time period that blight conditions remain in our community,” he said.

Councilmember Richard Carr provided an example of someone receiving notice of a violation of stagnant water, which is paid, and they come into compliance, but then have a violation of storage of junk. He asked if they would be separate violations.

The increase in fines only occurs if there is a repeat violation for the same incident, he was told.

Council also passed the resolution for an administrative hearing before the special magistrate to appeal a notice of violation.

City Attorney Aleksandr Boksner said the resolution requires the violator to appeal that decision and to correspond with that there is a monetary fee of $250.

If the special master finds for the person accused of violating a city code, that person would be rebated the appeal fee.