Code violation becomes $94,000 ‘nightmare’ in Temple Terrace
TEMPLE TERRACE -
William Holland Jr. had hoped to quickly resolve a code enforcement complaint about exposed wood on the roof of his Willowick Avenue home in 2007.
Six years and $94,000 in fines later, Holland and his wife Katherine are still battling what she described as “our living nightmare.”
William Holland, 75, expected to appear before the Temple Terrace Municipal Code Enforcement Board on a hot July day in 2007 to explain what had happened, receive an extension for a new hearing then be on his way.
The board members would surely understand his misfortune, Holland said. He had hired a roofer to complete the job, but the contractor stopped midway through to give Holland time to locate some hard-to-find concrete tiles to match the rest of the roof on his home, built in 1926 and considered one of the city’s oldest.
Holland, an attorney with a law office in Ybor City, was late for the hearing. From that forward, Holland believes he has been behind the eight ball with the code enforcement board.
He faces a nearly $94,000 lien on his house, may have to pay the city’s attorney fees and costs, and possibly turn over vacant property to settle an ongoing legal battle over the original violation.
Holland said he never had a chance to properly defend himself on the liability issue.
“The only thing I was allowed to do was beg for mercy,” Holland said.
City Attorney Mark Connolly said Holland has been treated fairly at every step of the process.
Connolly said Holland is responsible for the lengthy legal fight because of legal challenges he filed, and the city sued to protect its interest.
As the litigation waged on, fees associated with the violation mounted.
On May 6, Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Levens granted the city a summary judgment of foreclosure. The judge ruled Holland would be required to pay the $77,800 principal on the lien and accrued interests of $15,601 for a total sum of $93,401.
The ruling also cited three vacant parcels on North Riverhills Drive owned by Holland that could be claimed as part of the lien settlement.
Holland, whose two-story house has a market value of nearly $118,000, hopes to get the fine reduced. He has filed a motion for a fine reduction and a new hearing before the code enforcement board on June 5.
It marks the second time Holland has asked for the lien to be reduced.
Holland brought his property into compliance with the city code in September 2009, documents show. On Nov. 23, 2009, while the foreclosure action was pending, Holland filed a written request for a lien reduction, Connolly said.
The code enforcement board recommended the request be denied. But on Jan. 5, 2010, the Temple Terrace City Council granted a reduction of the lien from $77,800 to $36,000 on the condition the reduced amount be paid in full within 30 days of the date of approval.
Holland did not pay the reduced amount in the allotted time and the lien reverted to its original amount.
Holland, who is represented by attorney Luke Lirot, also is requesting a new hearing to make a plea to the code enforcement board. He wants the panel to correct its orders and rulings under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
Holland has long said state statutes and the city code require a city the size of Temple Terrace to have a 7-member board in order to exercise code enforcement power, which he said was not always enforced in his case.
Another issue Holland hopes to address is the city’s minimum housing code violation policy. Holland said he hired three roofing companies and spent more than $40,000 to comply with the city’s aesthetic wishes. He believes he violated the city’s aesthetic wises not it its minimum housing code.
Connolly said he disagreed with Holland’s interpretations of the board’s rules and policies.
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