Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Injunctions denied in two building permit cases in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — In two different jurisdictions this week, judges denied injunctions in building permit disputes with the Hernando County Building Department.

In each case, the attorney for the landowner said he hoped the court's action would lead to an out-of-court solution.

In the first case, in which the county has declared six partially built home in the Trails at Rivard as unsafe, the denial of the injunction by a circuit judge on Friday came with an order to go to mediation within 20 days.

The unfinished structures have sat vacant for years, and the county ordered the builder, Costa Homes, to demolish them or get new building permits. But the builder balked at a county requirement to post a bond or put $10,000 in escrow for each structure, and missed a deadline.

The county was ready to go to demolition, but will now wait until the parties work out a settlement, go to mediation or go to trial, which the judge said Friday must happen quickly.

"I'm hoping some middle ground can be reached,'' Costa Homes attorney Joe Mason said after Friday's hearing.

Al Mayles, a Rivard resident who has been spearheading efforts to the issues resolved, said he had mixed feelings about the ruling.

"I don't know what else we could have expected,'' Mayles said.

In the second case, east Hernando farm owners Ann and Gerald Semeniuk sought an injunction to stop the county from enforcing county codes related to permits the couple failed to secure before building several structures and converting a portion of their barn to a residence.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore denied the injunction on Thursday.

On Wednesday, county building official William David Connelly had filed an affidavit stating that he had not told the Semeniuks that their electricity was about to be shut off. If that were to be recommended in the future, the county would put that in writing, he said.

The Semeniuks' attorney, Christopher Mulligan, said he wished he had known that in advance because fear of the electricity being turned off was what prompted the request for the injunction.

The Semeniuks are suing the county over several related issues, including a disputed hog hunting camp on their property.

Mulligan said the county has not been cooperative and that he hoped a federal court attorney the county has hired would be more helpful.

"We are very hopeful we can resolve it now that other people are involved,'' he said.

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