Brantley ordered to clean up ‘junk yard’ in Okeechobee City limits

OKEECHOBEE — A discussion regarding enforcement of court order for ongoing code violation by Marvin Brantley on his property located at 1905 S. Parrott Ave. was again on the Okeechobee City Council agenda at their Nov. 14 meeting.

According to city records, the nature of the violation constitutes a public nuisance as a matter of law under the provisions of Florida Statutes 823.05 and applicable city ordinances of the City of Okeechobee, Florida. A nuisance exists in the nature of placement of junk, creation of public safety issues and concerns, creation of environmental hazards, and failure to comply with applicable city of Okeechobee codes.

Although current city codes prohibit the use of property within the city as a junkyard, the use by Brantley pre-dates the ordinance, but is subject to valid city ordinances to control expansion, aesthetic purposes and public safety concerns at the property.

In July 2005, Mr. Brantley was ordered by the court to promptly conform to all applicable city codes and ordinances for the City of Okeechobee that pertain to the property, and to correct deficiencies once notified in writing by the City of Okeechobee within 10 days of notice. If Mr. Brantley failed to do so, the city reserved the right to employ the enforcement provisions of judgment.

Mr. Brantley was to erect a fence eight feet high – with permit – along the entire westerly boundary of the property which faces S.R. 15 (aka U.S. 441 or Parrott Avenue), from the north to south boundary line of the property by a professional fence company, and made of an opaque material to prevent sight through the fence – whether it be wood, chain link with slats, or other materials permitted and acceptable to the city under current codes.

The court order further stated that Mr. Brantley, his agents, employees, successors or assigns shall not place, permit, allow or otherwise cause any item, including but not limited to, items of junk, machinery, mechanical or marine parts or pieces, or farm implements or parts, or any other item along the entire westerly boundary of the property which faces S.R. 15, running from north to south boundary lines, from a point from the edge of the city sidewalk, to a point 50 feet to the east of said sidewalk, and shall remove any such item from the described area. The stated intent of the order is that the described restricted area shall at no time contain any item for display, storage or any other reason. Customer parking along the western boundary of the property shall be configured in a manner so that no vehicle will back onto the city sidewalk or onto S.R. 15 to leave the premises.

Mr. Brantley was also court ordered to keep trash, plant growth and other items named in the city codes to be kept clean and trimmed according to such codes at all times. Brantley had the responsibility of preventing any substance or material from entering onto, or within the groundwater of the property that would be considered an environmental hazard by the department of environmental protection for the state of Florida.

Mr. Brantley also was forbidden to expand, enlarge or otherwise make more intense the use that existed on the property. The specific acts mentioned above were to be performed by Brantley no later than Aug. 26 2005, with the exception of those considered on-going obligations.

Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. addressed Mr. Brantley stating, “Nothing personal, but it’s just gone on a long time and our goal is to get it cleaned up, not fine anyone.” City Council Member Noel Chandler also echoed the mayor’s sentiments with, “Fines don’t get the property cleaned up.”
Okeechobee City Fire Department Chief Herb Smith said that Mr. Brantley does “…keep property accessible to our trucks” when asked by the mayor if they had any ordeals responding to the area.

City Attorney John R. Cook told the council members that it would “…probably take 45-60 days to get a hearing,” regarding the court order violation.
Council Member Monica M. Clark said to those in attendance that “I think we’ve given Marvin enough chances,” and “I want to see it end,” voicing her approval for the enforcement of the court order.

The council will make an affidavit that the court order judgment has not been complied with, and the clerk of court shall issue a writ of attachment against Brantley. Mr. Brantley will not be released from the writ of attachment until he has complied with the judgment and paid all costs accruing because of failure to perform the act(s). If Mr. Brantley cannot be found, the council shall file an affidavit to this effect, and the court shall issue a writ of sequestration against Brantley’s property. The writ of sequestration shall not be dissolved until Brantley complies with the judgment.

If Mr. Brantley fails to act or perform what was put in the court order, he may be held in contempt of court for up to 180 days for each violation.

Mr. Brantley addressed the council Nov. 14 “that a couple weeks ago, I know it looked bad. I salvage six boats that were sunk in a rim canal, Buckhead Ridge and Taylor Creek. I had pontoons and stuff on the parking lot, trying to get them on trailers and trying to get them inside. It could not have been a worse time for anyone to come by and take pictures but thats when it happened. All I’ve done since then, it is put things in the back and organize things better.”

Mr. Brantley is in the process of contract negotiations with Sol-Arch Architecture out of Miami and ArcTrust, a private Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that specializes in the development, acquisition, financing and joint-venture of Net Lease Properties based out of Clifton, New Jersey.
The development and architecture company have a model of the layout on a flier for the anticipated project of the Okeechobee Town Centre, to be placed on the property that currently belongs to Mr. Brantley.

The advertising flier for prospective Town Centre tenants states it will have: 180,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space; excellent visibility with 650 feet of frontage on U.S. 441; highest traffic count in region with 32,500 average daily traffic (ADT); adjacent to Walmart Supercenter and Home Depot; shared entrance with Walmart at signalized intersection; over 5 million annual visitors to Lake Okeechobee area; and major increase in population during winter months.
The new area design is proposed to have a grocery store, two big box buildings, and a cinema building among the smaller spaces available.

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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