August 8, 2018

KEY LARGO — A code compliance case lodged by the county against a local wedding venue will be brought back to the special magistrate at the end of the month after attorneys for each side failed to reach an agreement after three months.

The case against 2 Thurmond Street Partners, which operates Key Largo Lighthouse Beach Weddings, was brought to Special Magistrate Judge John Van Laningham in April after neighbors complained that the business was negatively affecting their quality of life by hosting weddings three or four times a week and at times with dual weddings.

According to county officials, the wedding venue lacks a vacation rental use permit and a vacation rental manager’s license, is operating illegally in a suburban residential zone and has been failing to comply with the county noise ordinance.

In April, Van Laningham approved a 15-day window for Monroe County Assistant Attorney Steven Williams and Russ Yagel, attorney for 2 Thurmond Street Partners, to work out a stipulated agreement that would address the code violations.

Williams said last week that the agreement has been deadlocked, with the use of fireworks at the bayfront venue among the matters trying to be resolved.

“That’s one of the things I’m working on. I don’t want an incomplete stipulation that doesn’t address the fireworks,” Williams wrote in a previous email to the Free Press.

During the April meeting, Williams said that after one more fireworks display scheduled for shortly after that meeting there would be no more. Neighbors, however, say that hasn’t been the case.

Steve Hartz, a Pirate’s Cove resident. says the venue had a fireworks display on June 9.

Williams outlined the provisions of the non-approved stipulation months ago, including that the “property owners will cease wedding activity” after next April.

He emphasized that the agreement would not preclude 2 Thurmond Street Partners from seeking a zoning change so that future weddings beyond the April 2019 date would be lawful in terms of land use.

“Subject to public input,” Williams said.

Also as part of the proposed agreement, the venue’s list of booked weddings would have been provided to the county to verify, so that the number of events aren’t increased or continued beyond the agreed to timeframe and canceled parties are not rebooked.

The Monroe County Special Magistrate hearings are set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at Monroe County Government Regional Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, second floor, in Marathon. A copy of the agenda will be posted to monroecounty-fl.gov prior to the hearings.

tjava@keysnews.com