A grassroots Citizens' Movement Dedicated to Restoring Property Rights by Exposing and Eliminating Abusive, Agressive, Illegal and unConstitutional Code Enforcement Practices.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Brevard County Code Enforcement Attempts to Shut Down Recycling Center

On Saturday November 27, 2010 I had the pleasure of visiting the Cocoa Recycling Center located on the outskirts of Cocoa city limits off highway 520 on Lake drive.  I met Ron the business operator and Charlie Griffis the property owner, his niece an employee and several volunteer workers.  It is obvious to any observer that this is a close knit group of friends who care about each other. 

Charlie Griffis and his brother started this small family business at their home collecting cans in the 80's.  Since then, the operation has grown to a full recycling business with one of the most desired and sophisticated record keeping systems in the state of Florida.

The first code enforcement visit occurred in 1994.  In the past 16 years code enforcement has made several visits to the property. Each time code enforcement would show up the business would gladly bring their operation into compliance as directed. Property owner Charlie Griffis told me "We always try to stay in compliance and to comply."

Proof of the cooperation is that when Mark Herold appeared and told the Griffis brothers they needed to have a building for their business they bought the building where the business is currently being operated from.  Originally they had the recycling in part of the building and a thrift shop on the side, but code enforcement told them they could not run the thrift shop, so the Griffis brothers closed it down.

Cocoa Recycling - Picture taken on 29 November 2010
Time warping to the year 2008.  Code enforcement officer Mark Herold visited Cocoa Recycling and told Charlie's brother he needed to clean something up on the property.  So Charlie and his brother began the clean up which placed a lot of stress on Charlie's brother, who already had a bad heart. While performing the clean-up Charlie's brother threw his back out and doctors prescribed morphine for the pain.

On November 1, 2008 Charlie's brother died; cause of death was determined to be an accidental overdose of the prescribed morphine.  Just 14 short days after the death of Charlie's brother the Brevard County Sheriff's department, code enforcement and DEP showed up with 8 other agencies including CH9 news to raid Cocoa Recycling.  The business was accused of running a meth lab, dealing drugs, running a prostitution ring and having stolen property.

Brevard county code enforcement was represented by Bobby Bowen - retired Melbourne police Lieutenant and previous manager of the South Brevard County Animal Shelter.  The raid resulted in 3 minor code enforcement violations: awning without a permit, oil spill from a bob cat that hadn't been cleaned up yet and broken windows from the hurricanes.  These have all been rectified and are in compliance.

Lack of communication almost caused an injunction without the knowledge of Cocoa Recycling.  In August 2010 Cocoa Recycling was contacted by a media source about their upcoming hearing at the County Commission meeting which was a total surprise to Charlie Griffis.  The county was planning to file an injunction to shut down Cocoa Recycling.  The lack of notification continued to occur for future hearings until County Commissioner Robin Fisher made Charlie the point-of-contact.

At a hearing in August Commissioner Infantini said that she had sent one of her people out to look at the violations and the violations being presented at the meeting seemed to be  different than those listed.  She asked Mr. Bowen for a list of the accused violations because every time Cocoa Recycling would come into compliance with the cited violations, code enforcement would cite new and different violations.

On November 23, 2010 Charlie Griffis and Ron Griffis attended the County Commissioners hearing.  At that hearing was one of their business competitors ATM Recycling owner/operator Greg O'Leary.  Mr. O'Leary bragged to Charlie Griffis in passing at the meeting that he was invited to attend the meeting by the Brevard County code enforcement department.

In his address to the County Commissioners Mr. O'Leary stated that he was required to erect buildings costing him $750,000.  He also stated that his check book is in the negative.

Hmmm. . . . could this be due to the unfriendly business environment created by the enforcement of ridiculous codes that have nothing to do with health and safety?  In fact, the encroachments of the code enforcement office itself is having a negative effect on the general welfare of the community. Their agressive actions discourage businesses from moving to Brevard and retard the growth of those that are struggling to survive.  We the People should cite Code Enforcement for dumping hazardous ordinances on our general welfare that cause undue burden onto us.

Perhaps misery really does love company or would like to get rid of it. Mr. O'leary pleaded with the County Commissioners to vote for and force the same requirements on to Mr. Griffis to make the playing field fair, even though, as Commissioner Anderson pointed out the size of operations are much different, ATM is a much larger operation than Cocoa Recycling. The Commissioner also stated that since financial institutions are not loaning money in this economy it would be difficult to get a loan for a building such as Mr. O'Leary's.

Mr. Bowen showed a Power Point presentation of his last visit to Cocoa Recycling.  He stated that there are several vehicles on the premise that the RV's should be removed.  Charlie said he was in the process of getting the permits to demolish them and Mr. Bowen said permits are not required.  Take note, that at the County Commissioner meeting in September Mr. Bowen stated that he entered into one of the RV's and found a pot of stew cooking and an unmade bed - he showed pictures of the inside of the RV where he had no warrant or affidavit to enter the RV.

At the end of the meeting Cocoa Recycling was in compliance for everything listed but . . . County Commissioner Chuck Nelson said that the injunction should be pursued because no work or storage can be done outside the building.  Charlie asked Commissioner Nelson to show him the law that requires loading and unloading to be done inside a building.  This was enough to sway Commissioner Mary Bolin and Commissioner Fisher to vote with him for the injunction.  Commissioners Infantini and Anderson voted against the injunction.

Charlie says that if the law that Commissioner Nelson believes is true, the County School Board, and all businesses like 711 and Walmart, also in BU2 zones, will need to erect buildings to accomodate inside loading and unloading.

Select the Video Links to hear Charlie's Story in his own words!

Good Luck Cocoa Recycling! We stand behind you and hope that you are able to continue to provide a needed service to Brevard County and its residents, despite the counties efforts to shut you down!

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