BELLEAIR BLUFFS – A Belleair Bluffs property owner is facing fines of almost half a million dollars or more as a result of defying a court’s order.
This was divulged at the Belleair Bluffs City Commission meeting Monday night in Mayor Chris Arbutine’s report and expanded on by Tom Trask, the city’s lawyer.
At the same time, Mark Naedel, who is the son of the defendant, Barbara Granholm, in the action that will come before Judge Brandt Downey in the Circuit Court in January on a motion by Trask for sanctions, appeared at the meeting Monday night in an attempt to make a presentation.
That motion is set in for a hearing on January 6 and Trask’s motion, on behalf of Belleair Bluffs, is to order fines of $5,000 a day dating from August 11, 2005 through November 8 and for those fines to continue subsequent to November 8 until the defendant complies with the order.
The motion seeks an order for a final judgment of $445,000 representing the sum of fines from August 11 through November 8 and also seeks lawyer and legal fees incurred by the city in pursuing the action.
The case arises out of a city requirement that the property, located at 343 Bluff View, be brought into compliance with city ordinances.
Wrangling went on for months in the case. A stipulation for settlement was filed by the parties May 9, 2005.
According to Trask, the defendant failed to comply with the elements of the stipulation and he is now seeking an order from the court to, in effect, enforce its own order.
The order included the penalty of $5,000 a day for each day the property is not brought into compliance.
Mark Naedel was prepared Monday night with materials he wanted to present to the City Commission.
Arbutine would not allow it, on practical grounds.
“This has gone beyond us,” Arbutine said. “It is now a pending court action. We have nothing to do with it in the sense of changing anything,” he said, explaining that the commission now can now take no dispositive action in regard to the suit.
But he did relent and said he would allow Naedel to talk for five minutes. A moment later, Naedel decided not to proceed.
As of November 17, fines for Granholm will have reached $490,000. If non-compliance continues, another $250,000 could accumulate, bringing the total in fines to $740,000.
Of course, if the court does grant the motion enforcing its own order, the city can proceed against Granholm through liens against the fines on the property and ultimately foreclose on the property.
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