Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Illegal Closing, by City Officials, of my business which was legally authorized by the Pensacola City Council

These are excerpts from Rick's Blog, dated March 3,2016, Pensacola City Attorney opines council resolution on city hall access not binding

·  Reply Mary MeadMarch 7, 2016 at 10:51 am
My business is not a grandfathered non-conforming use but is a grandfathered conforming use as art galleries and functions are legally allowed in PR-2. There is no time limit on this unlike in a non-conforming use. Event functions are legally allowed on my property and are documented online in Pensacola’s council file record to prove it as I have repeatedly pointed out. The continued accusation that functions are not allowed at my business is false and contrary to the documented evidence. I have never refused an inspection by the Fire Department and I have passed them all.
I only want what I am allowed by law and which I was illegally forced to stop based on apparent illegal/criminal actions by City Officials to include the violation of my constitutional right for due process.
I don’t understand the hostility, false charges and threats directed at me in illegally closing my business and continuing even after since I have broken no laws and have harmed no one. Pensacola City Attorney Wells, State Attorney Eddins and City employee Sherry Morris even conferred to make a report to FDLE containing false charges against me to try to justify the illegal closing. I think lying to law enforcement to libel and falsely accuse me is a serious matter.
My small business provided a great deal of pleasure to many people and I have received thanks for it from our clients especially from the young military people at the Naval Air Station who wanted to get married. We provided a beautifully decorated historic house which was candle-lit, made arrangements at their convenience (usually at night) and all at a nominal cost. I performed the ceremony as I am a notary. They and their friends then left for a celebratory dinner.
I will continue to defend my legal business because that business is what I am good at and I can make it a success again. I want to pass this business and my property on to my children and grandchildren. One is a gifted artist who has not been allowed to show her art in my legally authorized business because City Officials illegally closed it down.
I try to open my legally authorized business everyday by having the illegal prohibition of operating my legally authorized business removed so I can open without continued harassment and without exposing myself to false arrest and bodily harm, after all, I am elderly.
·     Reply George HawthorneMarch 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Ms. Mead,
Do you understand that to open your business you must bring it up to fire/safety codes and that is why you can’t open?
Do you expect to open without doing this work?
Your building use code is OFFICE/MULTISTORY not Antique/Art retail there are different requirements for both and that is what you need to comply with and get your Use changed.
That is YOUR responsibility and the reason you can’t open as you say.
I have been through the exact same thing with the City. Do you get it EVERY one of your posts talks about the past.
Reply Mary MeadMarch 6, 2016 at 8:43 pm Comment awaiting approval
While I welcome everyone’s interest in the apparent illegal/criminal actions inflicted on me, there are too many rumors and false excuses that City Officials broadcast to cover-up their illegal actions. This causes many misunderstandings. The authorization to use our property as an art gallery, antiques, crafts and functions was not a conditional use but was based on the grandfather regulations. The use and parking were grandfathered but we also have a parking lot with more spaces than are required for the stated use according to Pensacola Ordinances.
Official regulations in the United States Secretary of the Interior’s Office, and the Standard Building Code, state that historic properties are exempt from changes in building codes. Our house is recorded in the National Registry of Historic Places, is located in the North Hill Preservation Area and has been recognized as a historic property by City Officials.
Mr. Hawthorne mistakenly stated, “An “event facility” is not allowed by code and your property doesn’t have the parking required for such a facility and your neighbors complained that your events’ guests were parking all over the neighborhood.” This is a false statement which the City Attorney, Mr. Wells, originated in his email of September 9, 2010 to FDLE to cover-up the illegal closing. I have discussed this in in the post titled “False Statements by the Pensacola City Attorney and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) General Counsel.” I was able to obtain, by the Freedom of Information Act, an email from Chief Simmons which showed there were no complaints against us for parking or anything else before our illegal closing.
From: Chip Simmons
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:17 AM
To: Al Coby
Cc: Thaddeus Cohen; Rita R. Lee
Subject: RE:
Thanks Al. I checked and we have no paperwork on the location or information regarding the complaint. We do have a total of nine alarm responses dating back to 2004.
My legally authorized, successful business was illegally closed down as retribution because I had repeatedly exposed City Officials’ apparent illegal/criminal actions. City Officials tried desperately to keep the illegal Certificate of Occupancy scam but this illegal policy was stopped. I also reported my deep concerns about the Maritime Park being anything other than a baseball stadium, for Mr. Studer, to the Pensacola News Journal but they refused to print my letters. The editor said he refused because the PNJ was definitely for the park. I was concerned about land purchased by the City with the help of the Public Trust for Land being used for anything other than the public. I have also repeatedly reported that the Pensacola Advisory Boards were illegally populated with members who have a conflict of interest. According to Florida Statutes, decisions about the future of Pensacola should not be made by people who receive all, part or some of their income from the City of Pensacola.
Forcing me to appear before an illegal Planning Board even though I have valid authorization to operate my business appears to be just more of the persecution directed for over a decade at me, an elderly, widowed grandmother who is a veteran and a law-abiding patriot. The illegal prohibition on me operating my business, as I was legally authorized by the Pensacola City Council, should be immediately removed.

·     Reply George HawthorneMarch 7, 2016 at 7:53 am
Ms. Mead,
It is clear to e that you only want “what YOU want” and are more interested in continuing to fight than to operate your business. The so-called “grandfathered” non-conforming uses cease to exist after 1 year of non-operation of the “grandfathered” uses. Again, I ask ‘When was the last time you ACTUALLY tried to open your business?”
You continue to constantly talk about the “past” and have done NOTHING (other than complain about how you were DONE) to affirmatively go and operate an antique/art business. You want to insist on event functions that not allowed.
Additionally, a “historic building” designation DOES NOT give you immunity from upgrading non-compliant fire/safety upgrades. How do you expect to operate a “public gathering” place and not provide the required “fire/safety” upgrades required? Do YOU think that YOU should be allowed to operate a fire/safety deficient building?
  • Reply Mary MeadMarch 6, 2016 at 2:47 pm Comment awaiting approval
    Mr. Hawthorne
    You appear to be mistaken. The 2001 approval was based on grandfathering of all uses equally – there was no percentage assigned to retail or events. I have never had or needed a conditional use and that fact was stated by Mr. Cowper. The building code changes would not matter as historic buildings (which we are) are exempt, by law, from changing building codes. (see online authorization records)
    You statement, “An “event facility” is not allowed by code and your property doesn’t have the parking required for such a facility and your neighbors complained that your events’ guests were parking all over the neighborhood,” is a false statement originated by City Attorney Wells, on September 9, 2010, in an email to FDLE as a cover-up for the illegal closing. I show the evidence for this in in the Article False Statements By The Pensacola City Attorney And The Florida Department Of Law Enforcement (Fdle) General Counsel. The parking facts are that our parking is grandfathered and we have a parking lot which far exceeds the required parking spaces. My occupancy use or code was and is business and functions of less than 100 were under the category “B” business and a limit of 100 attendees was contained in my rental contract for clients. I obtained a copy of the following email through freedom of information from Chief Simmons showing there were no complaints.
    From: Chip Simmons
    Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:17 AM
    To: Al Coby
    Cc: Thaddeus Cohen; Rita R. Lee
    Subject: RE:
    Thanks Al. I checked and we have no paperwork on the location or information regarding the complaint. We do have a total of nine alarm responses dating back to 2004. (Note: Remember that the illegal closing was in 2005.)
    The cause of the illegal closing was retribution for my repeatedly reporting that City Officials were involved in illegal activities which eventually forced them to stop the Certificate of Occupancy scam which cost them millions. In addition, I had stated deep concerns about the Maritime Park not really going to be a museum, peoples’ park, trellis path, etc. The PNJ refused to print my letters to the editor citing these concerns because as the editor stated to me, they were for the park. I have also reported through the years that Pensacola Advisory Boards (Planning Board, Construction Board, etc.) were composed of members who were in violation of the Florida Statute regarding conflict of interest. They still are. Many decisions of the Planning Board have been illegal – Councilman Bare realized this. Trying to force me to go before an illegal Board when my authorization is valid, seems like more persecution of an elderly widowed grandmother who is a veteran and a law-abiding patriot.
    I am again asking that the illegal prohibition of me operating my small legally authorized business be lifted so I can reopen since I have always been in complete compliance with the law.
  • Reply Mary MeadMarch 4, 2016 at 6:21 pmMr. Hawthorne
    Thank you but my late husband and I have already completed this process (on January 11, 2001), and the Pensacola City Council approval is recorded in the Pensacola online records section under Council Files and is also recorded in the Pensacola City Council Minutes.
    We also have the proper Certificate of Occupancy for this operation. We also have kept our business licenses for the City and County current. All City Officials have to do is remove the illegal closure they placed on our property and we can reopen immediately.
    How to find the Authorization: (see, city government, sunshine center, search available records, click on “I understand ….” Click on “02 Council Records,” enter 01/11/2001 in the to and from dates and “Mary Mead” in the in the enter keyword space, click find – page 6, third paragraph, second sentence, states, “The meads propose to use the structure for an art gallery, antiques, crafts and functions.”
    • Reply George HawthorneMarch 6, 2016 at 7:34 amMs Mead,
      Respectfully, I would offer that a 2001 conditional use approval is just that “conditional” and the “conditions” for approval have changed as the building and fire/safety codes for your proposed uses have changed.
      It seems as if the problem you encountered was because the “events/functions” business became the “primary business operation” instead of the “arts/antiques” retail as proposed.
      An “event facility” is not allowed by code and your property doesn’t have the parking required for such a facility and your neighbors complained that your events’ guests were parking all over the neighborhood.
      I had the exact same problem with a property that my wife operated on Gregory Street and they closed us down because the “event use” was not allowed in a R/NC zoning.
      However, if you have a current occupancy use for these uses and you have a current business license. YOU can OPEN your “arts/antiques retail” business and you will have to make the “functions” portion of your business in conjunction with your arts/antique sales. For example, a function in conjunction with arts/antiques sales (ie, reception, open house, exhibit, artist party, art auction, etc.) should be permitted, however, to advertise/operate the property as an “events venue” open for rental of the property for special events is NOT allowed.
      However, I can guarantee you that the building and fire/safety codes have changed since 2001 and you must comply with these new codes.
      If your position is that you shouldn’t comply then YOU are wrong, because, the public that you are soliciting to come to this “business” must be protected under the law and the CITY would be liable if something happens on that property and you were not in compliance and they knew and did nothing.
      When was the last time you TRIED to open your “arts/antique retail” business and NOT an “events facility”?
  • Reply Mary MeadMarch 4, 2016 at 3:42 pmMy situation is very simple. My property is officially authorized to operate as an art gallery, antiques, crafts and functions. I want to use my property to operate as an art gallery, antiques, crafts and functions. City Officials illegally closed my business, without due process, on March 19, 2005, and refuse to lift the illegal closing. I want the illegal prohibition City Officials placed on operating my legally authorized business lifted. I want City Officials to stop harassing me and stay out of my business since I have not violated any laws.
    City Officials want me to stay illegally closed from now own to punish me for reporting on their illegal actions. All City Officials I have notified of these illegal actions (from Mayor Hayward on down) refuse to lift the illegal prohibition on me operating my business and make false reports to other officials maligning and libeling me to cover up their illegal actions.
    Other people want me to lease or sell my property to them for their use.
    The bottom line is it’s my property. I want to use my property to display and sell my granddaughter’s art work to help her pay for college. I want to collect, refinish, and sell antiques and pictures. I am authorized to do this, I have successfully done this, and I want to do this in order to earn an income from my investment property. This worked best as a small family owned and operated business and that is what I want.
    • Reply George HawthorneMarch 4, 2016 at 4:46 pmMs. Mead,
      Your property is zoned PR-2 North Hill Preservation -Multifamily
      You can use the property for :
      1. Bed and breakfast subject to regulations in section 12-2-55. And you can comply with these regulations with some minimal life/safety upgrades as required for the Certificate of Occupancy Use Change. These are compliance issues to ensure safety of guests that may stay there and ARE required from everyone that operates a business as such.
      “Conditional Uses” permitted (means that you must get Planning and Council approval ) you CAN operate:
      a. Private clubs and lodges except those operated primarily as commercial enterprises.
      b. Office buildings (under five thousand (5,000) square feet).
      c. Antique shops—No outside displays.
      d. Art galleries—No outside displays.
      e. Social services homes/centers.
      f. Boarding and lodging houses.
      g. Childcare facilities subject to regulations in section 12-2-58
      If you want to operate the Art Gallery and Antique Shop you can petition the City to let the conditional uses as allowed above.
      Yes, it is a process and yes they will probably take you through the ringer, however, they will have a hard time denying the conditional use approval, given, the other similar type of conditional use permits approved throughout downtown and North Hill.
      One thing I am sure of, if you were to go through the process, I bet they will try to get this behind them and let you open your facilities.
      However, it would be unreasonable for you to expect them to allow you to open WITHOUT following the required building upgrades to meet current fire/safety and building codes for these type of facilities.
  • Reply George HawthorneMarch 4, 2016 at 1:41 pmMs. Mead,
    I respectfully would suggest that your claims that may be valid (let’s assume are fully valid) the problem is that you have a tort case. Such cases have a “limited life” based upon a statute of limitation for such “tort” claim. Even if you were to include extra time for a claim involving fraud, the statute of limitation for you to file a claim in the courts may have passed.
    If this is the case and all you have to “rectify” this wrong is blog posting about the “wrongful actions” with no forum to get redress (clearly this forum can’t resolve your issue), I would respectfully suggest that maybe a “different approach” to this issue may be appropriate.
    Back to my suggestion, it is very possible and very legal to lease the property to a bona fide “B&B operator” and then they operate the B&B and pay you money under a lease that would include provisions that let you participate in the profits. Look at the Lee House as an example, Collier Merrill is an “owner” of the business and/or property and I am sure he doesn’t live there.
    I think that given the “history” between you and the City, it may be “time” to try to get a deal that works for you and that is within the development code. Clearly, if it is done with transparency the City cannot afford to screw you again.
    My point is solely based around the fact that you are getting older and it is only right that you have some peace and happiness … life is too short. Don’t let the “past” consume YOUR “future” and making that ASSET work for YOU.
    God Bless and Best Wishes
  • Reply Mary MeadMarch 4, 2016 at 9:38 amMr. Hawthorne
    While your intentions are good, your advice does not fit the situation.
    My losses are because City officials illegally closed an authorized business, without due process, which was operating in compliance with the law. They could not have closed it with due process because we were in total compliance with the law. It is true that I am defending my property and defending my right to operate as I am legally authorized. The business had operated for over 25 years (including the previous owner) with no complaints and was closed down without due process at the whim of City Officials.
    The problem comes from officials refusing to obey and enforce the law not from what kind of business I operate. If they can illegally close down my previous legal business they can illegally close down a B&B whenever they feel like it, legal or not. In addition, I won’t be able to lease it to another and falsely claim that the owner is the operator. My switching businesses won’t solve the problem. Only stopping the corruption will solve the problem.

  • Reply Mary MeadMarch 3, 2016 at 11:17 pmThere must be some misunderstanding. My situation is not over and done. The Pensacola City Council authorized the use of our property as an “art gallery, antiques, crafts and functions” and this authorization is still alive and well. It has never been officially rescinded by the Pensacola City Council. City Officials are interfering with the legal use of my property by illegally closing my business, without due process, and by illegally keeping it closed down. City Officials made false statements to FDLE and to others as a cover-up to keep us closed down while falsely blaming us for breaking rules. Any local gossip and rumors being spread are false if they say the closing is our fault and I have the documentation to prove it.
    We purchased the property because we liked to collect and restore antique furniture, and we liked to collect and reframe art. The thought of having functions appealed to us. Upon purchase, City Officials illegally refused to let us operate and closed us down because they were running the Certificate of Occupancy on change of tenant scam in order to steal many of our historic artifacts, drain our life savings and put us deep in debt. It took me two years to prove that their actions were illegal and, finally, we were allowed to open.
    We operated for almost 5 years with no complaints from the City, neighbors or clients. We also won best restored historic property in 2000. City Officials sent a Pensacola Police Officer to illegally close us down again, this time in 2005.
    I hate to whine about the second illegal closing, but our family loved participating in the goings on in the beautiful house. We especially miss the use of the art gallery since my granddaughter (in her twenties) is a gifted artist and we would love to be able to display her portraits for income to help her with college expenses (UWF). City Officials have refused to let us use the property as currently authorized; we appear to be banned forever as punishment for pointing out illegal actions.
    Mr. Hawthorne stated, “You have consistently, complained about “what happened” instead of utilizing the property for something that fits the “existing and current” code like a B&B.” Unfortunately Mr. Hawthorne is incorrect. I am familiar with where Pensacola City Ordinances are available online and I am familiar with the requirements for a B&B and I do not qualify and never have. My property does not fit the “existing and current” code but it does meet the requirements for an art gallery, etc. which is currently authorized for that property.
    • Sec. 12-2-55. – Bed and breakfast facilities. Modified
    (D) Owner occupancy required. No bed and breakfast facility shall be permitted except where the principal building is owner-occupied.
    I do not live at our business property but live, for almost 40 years, in the residence my late husband and I built together in 1978. The business property is not owner occupied and does not meet the requirement above. I am not trying to make a point but I am trying to earn an income by operating my business (which I like very much) as I am legally authorized which I think is my constitutional right since it is in compliance with all laws governing the situation.
    I have been approached by many people to sell but I don’t want to sell. I have been approached by some who say they can get the prohibition to use my property lifted if I lease to them (Mr. Odom, Mr. Hawthorne, and on and on.) I declined. When the illegal prohibition is lifted, I want to operate my own business as I am legally authorized and as I did successfully before.

    • Reply George HawthorneMarch 4, 2016 at 7:14 amMs Mead,
      If I offended you, I apologize. However, my point is still the same in that your losses of income are primarily because you insist on fighting a fight that has been lost to date. And, from then 2005 to now has been 10 years. Clearly, you could have operated this as a B&B or some other ALLOWED business. For example, you could (and still can) lease it to a B&B owner/operator (if you don’t operate it) for a base rent & percentage and made hundreds of thousand of dollars.
      However, as you have noted, every official, agency and governmental group you have contacted has declined your argument. You have never taken it to court and won, and now the statute of limitations has run out on such a case. Furthermore, your property still is vacant and you still have holding expenses and your fight is limited to blog posts to people that aren’t listening nor can help you.
      I truly do feel for your condition and have no doubt that you were “wronged” by the City (it happens all of the time), however, your approach isn’t working and any hopes for civil damages is done. You are now hurting YOU, by continuing to hold on to a “dream” that your are going to re-open as you had operated.
      My suggestion to you (with all good intentions) is that you seek someone that you can trust and start some business operations at this property and make some money in your “golden years.”
      I would truly suggest (as I did when I discussed leasing the property) that you consider opening a B&B (like the Lee House) and operate it with all of the fine antiques and art that you love. You could tell the guests about the history of Pensacola, your love for your husband and your lovely property’s history.
      I am not against you, as I have spoke up, over the years when people have attacked your blog posts. In fact, that is why I sought you out to help you … not to take advantage of you. I do believe your plight, however, my approach to being “wronged” is “tell about the wrong” and “take actions to mitigate the wrong’s effect on my life.”
      Just telling about the wrong and hoping that people care enough to get behind you and support you … just doesn’t work in Pensacola. People here just don’t care about the truth nor do they move to change when the lies are exposed.
      Just look at the apathy about the Mayor and his leadership, integrity and administration. If people don’t care enough about how the City treats them … why would they care about your problem. I am not trying to be mean or insulting to you … I am just giving you the professional advice I would give a client of mine if they were in the same position.,

    Reply Mary MeadMarch 3, 2016 at 12:46 pmCity Officials have a long-time policy of defying the United States Constitution since they appear to view Pensacola’s government not as a part of a Republic required to obey the United States of America Constitution but illegally view the government as a servant to a small group of rulers. I have repeatedly reported to City Officials that they are in violation of the Constitution in the illegal closing of my officially authorized business without due process. I have been illegally closed for over 10 years. City Officials had the Police Department send a Police Officer to close our legal business down during a function, verbally, without a single piece of paper, without a hearing and without prior notice. City Officials sadistically used force and bullying to close us down and violated the Constitution which requires due process in this situation. City Officials have repeatedly refused, in writing, in answer to my repeated requests, to permit me to operate my business as authorized by the Pensacola City Council on January 11, 2001 during an official Pensacola City Council meeting and the authorization was properly recorded in online records and in the official minutes.
    I have diligently reported this illegal action which has deprived me of any income from my authorized business for over 10 years. Meanwhile the expenses continue. City Officials are trying to force me into bankruptcy and drive me from the City apparently in retaliation for my repeated insistence that City Officials obey the Florida and federal laws which they are required and paid to do. My insistence that they stop the Certificate of Occupancy scam probably cost them millions. City Officials consistently refuse to obey the laws even though they have sworn to under pain of perjury.
    I have reported this illegal situation locally to Mayor Ashton Hayward, City Attorney Lysia Bowling, Police Chief Alexander III and they refuse to obey the United States Constitution which they are paid and required to do.
    In addition to the illegal actions against me, City Officials are also sadistically harassing others: City Council members, Pensacola Fire Chiefs, Melanie Nichols, and on and on.
    I have diligently reported the refusal of these officials to obey Florida Statutes and federal laws to Sheriff Morgan, State Attorney Eddins, FDLE, State Attorney General Bondi and Governor Scott. These Officials appear to fear the small group running Pensacola but don’t fear violating the United States Constitution. None of these individuals have the authority to support enemies of the Constitution but they do. State Attorney Eddins, City Attorney Wells and City employee Sherry Morris even conferred (conspired?) to submit a report of false charges against me to FDLE which FDLE accepted and acted on even though I submitted extensive follow-up evidence to FDLE to show that their claims were, indeed, false. We in Pensacola deserve the protection of the law – both state and federal – instead of continued persecution.

    • Reply George HawthorneMarch 3, 2016 at 1:05 pmMary Mead,
      With all due respect, you are wasting your time and resources fighting for something that is OVER and DONE, move on to what you CAN do with your property instead of whining about what they DID to you.
      You have a beautiful property that has been wasted by YOU over the last 10 years. You have consistently, complained about “what happened” instead of utilizing the property for something that fits the “existing and current” code like a B&B.
      YOU have missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars, “trying to make your point.” They haven’t lost YOU have.
      Make your beautiful property “work” instead of being vacant, unproductive and costing you money for upkeep. You think that this is THEIR problem and mistake … and in reality it is YOUR own actions that have and ARE costing YOU money.
    Reply George HawthorneMarch 3, 2016 at 7:25 amCharles Bare
    Did the Mayor veto the resolution within the timeline for veto? No, he just didn’t act on it.
    Clearly, you and the Council do not have the resources, guts nor acumen to wage a “legal” battle against the Mayor.
    Get some courage and START a RECALL … and get rid of the Mayor and Olson.
    What do you have to lose … your council seat? Stop whining and do something “disruptive and decisive.”
    Start a recall petition and get voters to sign it … that is REAL leadership.
    Dr. Martin Luther King said, “True leaders are not seekers of consensus, they are molders of consensus.”
    Don’t wait for someone to form some committee so you can “jump out front” … “jump out front” and get people to follow.