A Key Largo landowner who faces nearly $687,000 in fines for code violations may be able to sell the derelict lots to a neighbor and escape foreclosure by the county.
The Monroe County Commission agreed Wednesday to allow the neighbor, Carl "Skip" Ernst, to purchase two run-down properties behind the Pink Plaza shopping center rather than begin foreclosure proceedings against the Miami owner.
According to county documents, properties owned by Jean Sandal at 1311 and 1317 Calder Road have been at the center of three code enforcement cases since 2009. As of Aug. 15, the accrued fines had reached $686,888, according to county documents.
But a solution may be in the works to avoid the county taking the littered properties. Assistant County Attorney Bob Shillinger told commissioners Ernst was interested in buying the properties from Sandal. Shillinger said that would keep the county from having to spend money to clean up the properties.
He added that the county has been frustrated because of the lack of communication with Sandal. According to county documents, Sandal was caught claiming a homestead exemption in Key Largo while maintaining a primary residence in Miami.
"The county will keep its hands off of it until a deal is made or falls apart," said Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, adding that she was confident Ernst will acquire the lots. "It sounded like him and the owner have a deal."
Once Ernst owns them, though, he will be inheriting the unpaid fines.
Murphy said the commission likely would drop the amount of the fines considerably.
"We will ask for what we have put in it," she said.
In the three code enforcement cases, Sandal was found to be in violation for a large shed and fish-cleaning table, a deteriorating mobile home and for illegally disposing of abandoned vessels in a canal.
He also was cited for having an unpermitted roof deck, trash and debris, abandoned vehicles and unsanitary conditions.