By Joe Capozzi
The owner of an oceanfront property that fell into disrepair, sparking complaints from neighbors about rats and debris, will get a discount on code fines from Ocean Ridge.
But it wasn’t the reduction the owner was hoping for.
Brookshore Ltd., which owns the property at 6009 N. Ocean Blvd., must pay $116,230 of the original $162,031 in liens stemming from code violations going back at least to 2019, town commissioners agreed Aug. 2.
Brookshore had asked to pay just $50,000, a request that insulted at least two commissioners.
“I think it is disingenuous, honestly, for a property that is minimally worth $5 million to come in with a 1% offer of $50,000,’’ said Mayor Kristine de Haseth, who initially wanted to reduce the original total by just $19,751, which represents the interest accrued.
Sam Caliendo, an attorney for Brookshore, said the owner of the company is an elderly man in New York who allowed a friend, Jose Esquivel, to live on the property with the understanding that Esquivel would take care of it.
“He did not take care of it. We tried to evict him on several occasions,’’ Caliendo said.
He said Esquivel fell ill and died, then Kenneth Frank, the owner’s son, got involved and started addressing the violations, which started accruing in 2019. The house was eventually demolished and the land cleared.
The property came into compliance in June. But fines started accruing in July 2019. And on Nov. 1, 2019, the town sent Brookshore a letter via certified mail warning the property was “an unsafe structure.’’
When Brookshore’s owner asked Esquivel about the problems, the tenant said “the situation was not as bad as the town thought it was,’’ Frank said, speaking to the council via audio call. “It’s just unfortunate that I am in New York. We could have rectified it sooner.’’
At least two commissioners weren’t moved by Frank’s response.
“Being in New York, you did not get the pleasure of having our residents parade through and talk about the rats that were infesting their property and talk about the blue tarp pieces flying in their pools,’’ de Haseth said.
“This situation went on well too long and too many people either turned their heads or did not choose to know what was going on,’’ she said. “All it would have taken was a two-minute stroll into our town in the last five years.’’
Commissioner Martin Wiescholek said the problems had been going on long before the fines started accruing in 2019.
At one point, the home was boarded up “with the roof half falling in and a blue tarp that got ripped in two hurricanes and was still sitting around to the point where the town was looking into replacing the roof at town’s expense,’’ he said.
“That to me says, ‘We don’t care about the community. We don’t care that you need to see this, on prime property.’ When the owner doesn’t care enough that the community is impacted by it, I don’t think the community should care if the owner has to pay the fine.’’
Commissioner Geoff Pugh suggested cutting the lien total in half, saying the town has done that in previous cases. Commissioner Steve Coz, noting Frank was now taking responsibility, suggested dropping the fine to $100,000.
The final $116,230 total commissioners agreed on is the average of what each of the four commissioners wanted.
Vice Mayor Susan Hurlburt was absent, but a letter from her objecting to the reduction request was read into the
By Joe Capozzi