Monday, May 17, 2010
Help Me Howard: Locked In
Let me ask you a question, your neighbor locked a gate blocking you from getting in or out of your property, you would assume that is illegal, but according to the City of Hialeah, it's not and it's why one Hialeah homeowner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser
WSVN -- When Patrick Kennedy and his wife are working on their plants, when they look over their shoulder at the wildlife in their backyard.
Patrick Kennedy, Landlocked: "This is my goose, she is on her nest now."
It all brings one word to mind. You can see why they love their property from 7 skyforce. Sixteen homeowners with long narrow backyards on a large spring fed lake in Hialeah, their paradise until...
Patrick Kennedy: "My neighbor decided to erect a fence."
The fence didn't bother anyone since the owner installed big gates to allow the seven neighbors on this side to get through, but then she decided to lock the gates.
Patrick Kennedy: "Denying me access to and from the back of my home."
Now the neighbors who live on the south side of the fence cannot drive into their backyards.
Patrick Kennedy: "This craziness is ridiculous."
Patrick is a police officer and puts his patrol car in his parking space in front, his truck is parked in the back yard, so if he wants to go to the grocery store or...
Patrick Kennedy: "Let's say you want to bring sod to your backyard. You want to put that table in the backyard, you don't."
What astonishes Patrick even more, the City of Hialeah gave the property owner this permit to install the fence and when she locked the gates and blocked seven of her neighbors from getting to their own property the City basically said, it's not our problem.
Patrick Kennedy: "They are not going to do anything about it, according to them, I have to take her to court to get the locks removed."
Patrick suspects the City is refusing to step in because the lock lady retired from the City.
Patrick Kennedy: "Who worked for 27 years with the City and all her friends work in the zoning department, and I feel like there might be some favoritism going on here."
Now David's a big boy, big enough to snap the locks, but he can't.
Patrick Kennedy: "Since I am a police officer, I would be committing a crime and I am about ready to retire and I don't want to lose my retirement over something this silly."
It does seem strange for a City to allow a person to block their neighbors from getting their cars or boats in and out of their backyards. Strange yes, but Howard is it legal?
Howard Finkelstein: "It's strange because of the permit. When the City issued that permit for the fence, they should have required that it not be locked. The City didn't do that. Legally they don't have to correct the permit and they disagree with me, but I think they can rewrite the permit to block the locks."
I spoke to Ana Haget, the woman who installed the locks, she told me if the neighbors want the locks off they will have to sue her.
Hialeah's mayor told me Haget is not getting preferential treatment. In fact, after we talked to the City they sent her this letter telling her that she could not lock the gates, but they did not demand she remove the locks, and she didn't. One of the City attorneys told me legally there is nothing Hialeah can do to stop her from locking the gates, that this is a civil matter.
Howard Finkelstein: "Hialeah created this mess by issuing the permit and instead of correcting it, the City is forcing the neighbors to hire an attorney and go to court. I believe Patrick and his neighbors will win in court, but they shouldn't have to spend their hard earned money to fix the problem that Hialeah could have."
Patrick is now hoping to find an attorney to help them do what the City won't do, remove the locks.
Patrick Kennedy: "I want the locks off and come and go as I please. Not having somebody tell me, like I am a prisoner in jail, saying you can't move until I tell you to move."
Know an attorney who wants to go to court to get a couple of locks removed? Let us know. What really surprises me about this, we get very few complaints about Hialeah, things usually work pretty well there, but this time the City forgot to use their common sense.
Frustrated and feeling fenced in? Want access a little legal help. Contact us. We are locked and loaded with law books and of course common sense.