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HOLMES BEACH – Building Official Tom O’Brien siad he has made his final decision on the tree house at Angelino’s Sea Resort – the case will be heard by the code enforcement board.
“Her own evidence shows she’s in violation,” O’Brien said last week.
Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen constructed the tree house on the beach in front of their resort in 2011. It came to the attention of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which ordered it to be granted an after the fact permit or removed in April 2012.
After further correspondence, in December 2012, DEP officials asked for a letter stating that it complies with the city’s setbacks and zoning requirements. O’Brien said his office would not supply that letter because it is not in compliance.
In February, Tran and Hazen’s Attorney, David Levin, submitted an after the fact permit application for construction seaward of the coastal construction control line.
Again in a March letter, DEP officials said the application was incomplete and asked for a letter stating that it complies with the city’s setbacks and zoning requirements, as well as other documents.
Setbacks and dunes
In his report dated April 29, O’Brien wrote, “Ms. Tran presented a survey to Mr. David Greene (city building inspector) in late January which clearly indicated that the structure in question is only 30 feet landward of the erosion control line established by the state of Florida DEP.
“That survey clearly indicates that the tree house encroaches approximately 40 percent in the required setback. Mr. Greene advised Ms. Tran that we could not provide such a letter because the structure was in substantial violation of the land development code and that this structure would require a building permit.”
He pointed out that according to the city’s code, a variance cannot be granted for encroachment of the erosion control line.
In a May 10 memo, O’Brien noted, “The other equally significant violation is the destruction of the natural dune and the associated native landscape. That was specifically cited in the original warning letter from DEP dated Dec. 14, 2011.”
He said according to the code, the dune must be restored. He said a photo submitted with the engineering report in May 2012 shows the dune and a photo taken last week shows “the dune is pretty much gone. It is quite apparent that within the entire area of Angelino’s frontage, the natural dune has been graded into ‘ … pathways and viewing areas,’ as noted in the DEP’s warning letter.”
Interference with duties
O’Brien also made reference to a memo he sent to City Attorney Patricia Petruff on April 8 regarding elected officials interfering with his job, in which he said, “My great concern is that now Commissioner Zaccagnino has decided to intervene on behalf of the violators.”
He said this violates Florida statute, which states, “The building code administrator or building official shall faithfully perform these responsibilities (listed in the statute) without interference from any person.”
He said Tran’s e-mail campaign to get signatures on a petition to save the tree house also is interference and that “she needs to cease and desist and get her property into compliance.”
In the April 15 notice of violation, O’Brien said, “There is no remedy other than the complete demolition and removal of the violating structure.
‘It is the responsibility of the property owner to insure complained with all city ordinances. Failure to comply with the ordinances may result in referral to the code enforcement board for the city of Holmes Beach or the issuance of code compliance uniform citation.”