Overseas Liquors attorney again accuses city (FL)

The city of Marathon and probate attorney Richard Warner are once again at odds over the former Overseas Liquor & Lounge building near mile marker 49.

This time, it’s the property owners’ failure to connect to Marathon’s newly constructed central wastewater system.

“This is the whole point,” Warner said on US1 Radio Wednesday. “The reason why the estate cannot hook up to the system in time is because it does not have enough money. Why don’t we have it? Because they wrongfully prohibited us from using the package store capability.”

Warner has long claimed the city damaged the estate financially by stopping it from reopening a bar and package store there. It was last open in 2008.

Warner was scheduled to appear on behalf of the estate of Joseph Ardolino, which owns the Overseas, at a Wednesday meeting of the city’s advisory Code Compliance Board. But the alleged code violation was withdrawn and not yet rescheduled.

Warner claims the city plans to fine the estate up to $5,000 for not hooking up to the system.

“What we heard was that they got wind of the fact I was preparing for a real major deal. Usually these hearings are done automatically and a lot of people don’t show up,” Warner said.

Not the case, according to city Code Compliance Administrator Stacy Charlton. She said the estate is not being targeted by the city, and that its inclusion on the agenda was accidental.

Charlton said any property owner in the city that doesn’t hook up to the central sewer system eventually receives a letter from the city’s Utilities Department giving them 365 days notice. After that, property owners are called to a hearing before the Code Board.

Charlton said the 365-day window has not yet elapsed for the Ardolino estate. That’s why it was withdrawn from Wednesday’s agenda. Even then, Charlton says property owners would not be fined at an initial hearing before the Code Board.

“You can come in and get a permit or go to hearing. The first step of the hearing is that the Code Board finds you in violation. Then we usually look at the people and ask them how much time they need. Anyone having trouble financially, we try to help them,” she said.

Warner said the estate’s alleged violation would be on the April 10 Code Board agenda, but Charlton says the item was withdrawn, not continued. “It’s definitely not going on the next one,” she said.

The sewer connection is just the latest thing in what Warner claims is a deliberate targeting of the Overseas building by the city.

Warner called “very strange” the timing of an unsafe-structure tagging of Overseas property manager Steven Debrecki’s trailer behind the main building on Feb. 14. It came the day after Warner filed a lengthy public-records request of the city in Circuit Court, but staff did not receive notice of the request until Feb. 19.

Warner requested all communication relating to the Ardolino estate between numerous city officials and law enforcement agencies dating back to 2007. His request came days before the FBI requested of city documents.

Most of the FBI request was related to Planning Commissioner and Marathon Liquor & Deli owner Ralph Lucignano. That request appeared to be the agency following up on claims made by Marathon Realtor Bruce Schmitt, the target in a murder-for-hire plot in December.

The murder-for-hire appears unrelated to the FBI researching Schmitt’s claims, but he’s been outspoken against the city’s efforts to deny a package store at the former Overseas based on a 2007 law banning liquor sales at businesses within 1,500 feet of a school, church or other establishment selling liquor. Circuit Court Judge David Audlin overruled a City Council vote.

Schmitt makes no secret that he believes Lucignano played a significant role in the law’s passage.


Overseas Liquors attorney again accuses city
Ryan McCarthy
March 18, 2013