BY MARCY SHORTUSE – Code enforcement complaints have found their way into the news again this week, but this time the complaints were lodged against homes on the north end of the island – in Charlotte County – regarding potential living spaces underneath raised homes.
According to Nathan and Carol Forrester, whose home is listed for sale, a Charlotte County Code Enforcement officer came to their home on Tuesday. He said he was there about a potential code violation. The Forresters were taken aback, to say the least.
“Beyond what appears to me to be an ugly and vindictive motive on the part of the complainant, the county should not be sending anyone around entering people’s properties or houses in this time of pandemic,” Nathan said. “The person who visited our house and rang the doorbell had no uniform, no visible badge, no bootie covers, no contamination suit, no gloves, no face mask and did not carefully respect proper social distancing. Flustered and wanting to demonstrate that we had no nonconforming space, I offered to allow the officer enter our lower level storage to confirm that there were no violations, which he did. In retrospect, such a visit could be a mortal threat to any of us as we sit in personal quarantine and the inspector moves from house to house.”
Nathan said he called the Code Enforcement office after the man left, and spoke with Gail Gursky, who was very helpful. Gursky apologized, and said while the visit was legitimate, the inspector was only supposed to take pictures from the street.
After he got off the phone with Gursky, Nathan went to the county website and found not only his complaint, but eight others. “The wording of the complaint in all cases was identical as follows: ‘This home is for sale. It is clear, from looking at the pictures that are posted online with the Real Estate listing, that there is finished air conditioned living space below flood level Finishing out and air conditioning of the interior space below flood level is a Building Code violation.’
All of these complaints were filed on the same day, January 16. There needs to be a better way to find out who is instigating the complaints. This is a spurious, shotgun approach, and the complainant should be held accountable for wasting county resources. Clearly, at least in our case, the complainant doesn’t know anything about what they are reporting … because we don’t have nonconforming space.”
Between January 1 and April 9 there were no similar code enforcement complaints filed in Lee County.
Keep in mind, if a code enforcement officer comes to your door at this time, you are not required to let them in or on the property.