By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Ormond Beach City Commissioners gave businessman Fred Hudson a break on code violations fines.
But in a workshop before the commission's regular meeting Jan. 15, the commissioners agreed to look for alternatives for a city welcome sign.
Mr. Hudson, owner of Hudson's Furniture and the Furniture Deal, had racked up more than $22,000 of fines for code violations and the lack of building permits on projects at his home and one of his businesses.
Jim Morris, attorney for Mr. Hudson, argued the fines were punitive and beyond the intent of the city to bring citizens into compliance with various codes. "As far as I know, Mr. Hudson is now in compliance with all codes," Mr. Morris said.
Mr. Hudson has been in business in Ormond Beach for a number of years, through good times and bad, and has made significant contributions to the city in a number of ways, he said, requesting that the commissioners reduce the fines.
Mr. Hudson attempted to correct the residential code violations by moving a fence, a dock and a hot tub; only to find out he was still in violation of code. Another move brought him into code compliance, but he still did not get permits to do the work.
As for the business violations, one of the violations was a non-permitted sign that an employee of the store knew to be in violation, but in essence decided to install it and "pay the fine."
"It was a tremendous number of personal things and business things that all happened at the exact same time," said Mr. Hudson, who also noted he employs 105 people in his two stores, both on Yonge Street.
Commissioner Bill Partington offered a formula for reducing the fines. "Taking everything into consideration, and looking at what has been done before, I thought it might be reasonable to take the total outstanding amount ... subtract the $1,500 (business violation) ... divide (the remaining fine) by two, which is a 50 percent reduction and then add the $1,500 back to that number which came to $11,780."
Commissioner Rick Boehm said, "Failing to move a fence two feet, that's a lot of money (to fine). I'm in agreement with Commissioner Partington; I think it should be reduced."
"To me $16,700 is way out of line by itself," Mayor Ed Kelly said. "And I might take that one and look at it individually."
The commissioners agreed to a total of $9,400 in fines, with the stipulation that they are paid in full within six months or the fine would revert to the original amount.
The city welcome sign at the corner of Granada and Williamson boulevards is part of a five-year Capital Improvement Program. The commissioners were not expecting the price tag to be nearly $250,000 and asked that additional alternatives be provided as they had originally budgeted the project at $185,000.
The design of the sign includes two columns on either end of an 8-foot tall fence onto which two city seals, 3 feet tall, are at either end of the 30-inch tall letters for "WELCOME TO ORMOND BEACH." The plan calls for the towers to be covered in coquina stone.
For landscaping, electrical and tower construction, the total was $248,758. An alternative plan for site improvement would have added another $126,000. A private donor has offered up to $50,000 to assist with the costs.
But Mayor Kelley seemed to voice the feelings of the other commissioners in saying, "We love what is here, (but) it seems way over the top."