Highland Beach Pergola Permit Violation Takes Center Stage

In a recent meeting of the Highland Beach Code Enforcement Board, the primary focus was on a significant building permit violation case involving an unpermitted pergola installation. Despite previous notices, the violation remained unresolved, prompting a discussion among board members and the homeowner’s representative. The board ultimately passed a motion to find the respondent in violation and ordered compliance within 60 days, with potential fines for each day the violation persisted past this deadline.

The case, which became the meeting’s central issue, sprung from the erection of a pergola without the necessary permit. The discussion centered around the respondent’s appeal of a staff interpretation concerning the structure’s nature, with the homeowner’s representative arguing for additional time to resolve the issue. The representative sought clarification on the definition and permit requirements of the structure, emphasizing the need for time to address the matter amidst setbacks due to health issues.

The board members raised questions about the setback requirements and the nature of the structure, debating whether it met the definition of a gazebo or a pergola, which would influence the applicable regulations. The distinction between permanent and temporary structures was also a topic of discussion, as it could affect the outcomes of the violation.

Frank Bashota, the representative for the homeowner, detailed the initial steps taken by the homeowner to secure a building permit, including the initial payment of over $1,100 in fees. He acknowledged the structure had been erected without a properly issued permit and expressed the homeowner’s willingness to comply, mentioning the possibility of appealing to the board of adjustment.

The building official, Mr. Remis, outlined the core problem of the pergola being installed without a permit and the subsequent permit application not meeting setback requirements. Remis suggested that the most straightforward solution would be to dismantle the structure, then revisit the legalities before potentially reinstalling it.

The board members engaged in a thorough discussion regarding the amount of time the homeowner should be provided to come into compliance. There was a clear division among board members, with some advocating for a generous timeframe due to the homeowner’s extenuating circumstances, while others expressed concerns about setting a precedent for leniency in code enforcement. After extensive deliberation, the board moved to a decision.

A motion was made and seconded to find the respondent in violation. The board then ordered that the violation be rectified within a 60-day period. Should the violation persist beyond this timeframe, the homeowner would face fines for each additional day the issue remained unresolved. This motion was approved by the board.

The meeting also briefly touched upon another violation related to an air conditioning change-out. This issue was quickly resolved by the town.

Moreover, the meeting included announcements of upcoming planning board and code enforcement meetings, although these were of lesser significance relative to the detailed proceedings of the pergola case.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Natasha Moore
Code Enforcement Board Officials:
Myles Schlam, Jane Perlow, Bryan Perilman, Michael Cherbini, Robert Lasorsa, James Murray

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