[A note from the Editor: We don’t usually accept Letters to the Editor that are unsigned. But we are making an exception this time. The Blue Paper, like the anonymous author of the letter below, would like to extend an invitation to readers who have had interactions with the Monroe County Building or Planning Departments to consider sharing them on this page. Please share your thoughts and experiences, good or bad. You can use the comment section below that way we’ll keep any discourse on this subject all in one place. Please be fair and civil as you express your opinions, like the author below. Thank you!!]
What happened at Oceanside Marina is an extreme example of Monroe County Legal, Building and Planning departments total disregard for laws, regulations, building codes and ethics. This happens every day at the Monroe County Building Department.
When Joe Schmoe, the taxpayer, goes to this building department, the initial encounter starts the wheels of injustice. If the first person you met likes you or your project, things may go smoothly until you meet another department head or person and then if they like you or your project, it may continue to progress until reviews are done and changes are required. This is the place where it gets sticky. Many times, their required changes are not code but their own rules, it may be a big thing or it may be a small thing but if you resist then things start to go bad.
This can take many forms, they can lose your paperwork; they can ignore you for months, that is if you don’t know the county code; they can dig up a rule that no one has heard of; or their favorite is “that’s not code, that is our rule and if you want this approved, you will follow it.”; they can refuse to allow contractors or workers on your job; they can make it very difficult for contractors to get approved, to a point that they say they will never work in Monroe County again; they always find something in the paperwork that needs redone.
Remember, they make the rules as they go and why not, they have never been held accountable for anything. The Monroe County Building department is in such a state of confusion, they can’t keep help so the high turnover lends itself to the new guys’ rule which means more uncertainty.
The fact is that many contractors will not work in the county. If they do, they charge a premium to deal with county antics. The public knows that doing the right thing and getting permits for a project, most likely will cost you enormous amounts of time, money, frustration, sanity and in many cases the right to do what you are legally entitled to only to have Monroe County immerse you into a quagmire of bureaucracy, fake rules intended to deter your will or ability to proceed. The commissioners know of this problem but are impotent to correct the insanity.
Yes, the county makes the rules up every day which precludes equal treatment, continuity and efficiency for Monroe County workers and the public. I have experienced this first hand and for years I have discussed this with hundreds of other contractors and taxpayers. The current commission refuses to correct the insanity so far.
Maybe the Oceanside scandal will make heads roll or it will be business as usual. I wish The Blue Paper would reach out to folks that have endured my experience and start a movement to drain the swamp. Folks like me will contribute but like me, will want anonymity because of the over-reaching, unbridled power of the Monroe County building Department to stop you in your tracks.
HELP! You only know this travesty if you try to work with the county and you don’t have a bond or a friend or project that is liked by Monroe Building department. It should be noted that a powerful attorney helps change their attitude also.