TEMPLE TERRACE — A member of this city's municipal code enforcement board, angry that the City Council reduced a business owner's fine last month, resigned Tuesday evening in the middle of a council meeting.
At their May 14 meeting, board members lit into the council, which had lowered a fine against Gaspar's Patio Bar and Grille from $50,000 to $1,600 in a case involving a site plan held up by the council. Board member Ken Devane was visibly upset as council members explained their April 1 decision.
Gaspar's owner decided to build a patio in between his two buildings and the project became large enough to warrant a site plan that must be reviewed and approved by the City Council, code enforcement director Joe Gross said.
Council member Ken Halloway continued to defend the council's position Tuesday night.
Devane responded by shoving his resignation letter into the hands of Mayor Joe Affronti and storming out of the city hall chambers in the middle of Halloway's remarks.
Fellow board member David Pogorilich argued in Devane's absence that the council should have sought an opinion from the board because of the sheer magnitude of the reduction in the fine. "It sets a bad precedent that if you have a problem with the fine, you go crying to the city to get it reduced," he said.
A private homeowner's case, also up for review that evening, did not receive a fine reduction, Pogorilich said. But council member Mark A. Knapp said the homeowner did not appear for the hearing as Gaspar's owner had, and the cases were very different.
Affronti praised the board for its service and urged members to work with the council to improve communication to prevent more such public incidents.
Good idea, Pogorilich agreed. "It just doesn't seem to help anyone to leave the board right now," he said.