The City of Mary Esther was incorporated in 1946. Like any City, Town or County, the City of Mary Esther has ordinances and codes that are designed to maintain a healthy, safe and clean environment, carry out land use regulations and policies for building and construction, and preserve the quality-of-life standards that residents and businesses enjoy in our community. There are many types of ordinances and codes. A short list of codes that are enforced on a day to day basis include zoning, fire, construction and building, housing maintenance, property maintenance, parking and animals.
What Is Code Enforcement?
Code enforcement is the act of enforcing a set of rules, principles, or laws and insuring observance of a system of norms or customs. In the United States, those employed in various capacities of code enforcement may be called Code Enforcement Officers, Code Compliance Officers, Municipal Regulations Officers, or other various titles depending on their specialization. Per Florida Statute 162.21, a “code enforcement officer” means any designated employee or agent of a county or municipality whose duty it is to enforce codes and ordinances enacted by the county or municipality.
How Are Ordinances And Codes Enforced In The City of Mary Esther?
The code enforcement process is typically initiated in two different ways, proactive and reactive.
Reactive enforcement occurs when responding to a complaint. Proactive enforcement occurs when inspecting or patrolling neighborhoods, construction sites and businesses to ensure voluntary compliance. Common violations cited are:
• Derelict and inoperative vehicles (flat tires, no license plate, expired registration, missing vehicle parts)
• Encroachments on the public sidewalk due to vegetation, white goods, vehicles, etc.
• Illegal signs such as advertising flyers and snipe signs placed in the right of way
• Graffiti on public or private property
• Overgrown vegetation
• Illegal dumping
• Accumulation of litter, trash and debris
• Illicit discharge of oils, sediment, chemicals and other hazardous materials into storm drains
• Zoning and occupancy violations
• Housing maintenance violations
• Illegal tree removal
• Construction without a permit
• Contractor registration and business tax receipts
What Are The Procedures When Responding To A Violation?
When the City receives a complaint about a code violation or a violation is found by means of pro-actively patrolling the community, an investigation takes place to determine the validity of the violation. If it is determined that the complaint is valid, the respondent (responsible entity) is given notice of the violation, the corrective action to be taken to bring the violation into compliance, and a specified amount of time that the violation must to be brought into compliance by. Notice may be provided verbally or in written form. Repeat violations, violations that are irreparable or irreversible and violations regarding health and safety are given a lesser amount of time for compliance and may have a citation or enforcement hearing summons immediately issued. If the respondent fails to voluntarily come into compliance, additional enforcement proceedings may take place such as an enforcement hearing and abatement by the City.
What Is A Code Enforcement Hearing?
At the request of the City, a non-compliant code enforcement case is heard before a Special Magistrate employed by the City. The respondent is served a notice of hearing or summons and is provided the opportunity to give testimony at the hearing. If the City proves its case at the hearing, the Special Magistrate enters an order requiring whatever steps are necessary to bring the violation into compliance and may impose a onetime fine, a daily fine and administration fees. It is the responsibility of the respondent to notify the City when the violation is brought into compliance and is ready for re-inspection.
What Happens If A Respondent Fails To Comply With The Special Magistrate Order?
If a specified time has been ordered for compliance by the Special Magistrate and the violation remains non-compliant past that time, a daily fine will begin to accrue against the property. After 90 days from the filing of the Special Magistrates order, if the violation remains non-compliant and any fees and fines remain unpaid, the City may initiate foreclosure proceedings against any real and personal property owned by the respondent in Florida. If a violation constitutes a threat to the public health, safety or welfare, the City may also take abatement actions.
What Are The Penalties For Violating A City Code?
Citation penalties range from $50.00 to $500.00. Hearing fines may be imposed up to $250.00 for a first offense, $500.00 for a second offense, $5,000.00 for irreparable offenses or the amount established for specific offenses by City resolution. The City may also take enforcement measures to abate certain violations such as securing a property from unauthorized entry, vegetation and debris removal, vehicle towing, etc.
How Do I Report A Code Violation?
You may report a code violation by:
• Calling 850-243-3566
• email firstname.lastname@example.org
• email email@example.com
• Writing to 195 N. Christobal Rd. Mary Esther, FL 32569 Attention: Code Enforcement