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Security Bars

Dania Beach resident Ed Williams is fighting with that city's Code Enforcement to keep the security bars he installed on his windows after his home was robbed. Dania Beach resident Ed Williams is fighting with that city's Code Enforcement to keep the security bars he installed on his windows after his home was robbed.
WSVN -- -

This is what we all fear.

Ed Williams: "She jumped the fence and broke the window. She was in the house for about two hours, going through the house."

In December, Ed's Dania Beach home got robbed -- for the second time. He had enough and got security bars.

Ed Williams: "We were looking for something to give us a sense of security in the house."

After Ed installed the security bars, he did feel a little safer.

Ed Williams: "You can leave the window open and go to the store. You don't have to worry about someone climbing in your house."

To Ed, the bars provided safety. To a Dania Beach Code Enforcement officer, they created a problem.

Ed Williams: "Yeah, they're going to want you to pull a permit, so I applied for a permit, and then the city wouldn't give me a permit."

Ed is a contractor, so he deals with codes. He couldn't find a code that barred bars on windows in Dania Beach, so he told the city...

Ed Williams: "'Show me something in writing,' and they haven't been able to do it, because I don't think there's a code for it."

The Code Enforcement officer told Ed, since he installed the bars, he had to follow the new code, which calls for a different kind of bar, or get rid of the bars he just installed. Ed argues other properties in Dania Beach have the bars like he installed.

Ed Williams: "I told them I have seen a lot of building with bars. Their comment is that they're illegal, and that is it."

When Ed refused to budge, he says the city started picking on him.

Ed Williams: "Now they're looking at the house saying, 'Well, if this driveway's original, does this tent here have a permit?' Now they're just starting to pick the house apart."

Bottom line, the city says, Ed has to take the bars down. Ed says, no I don't."

Ed Williams: "And I'm like, 'I'll take the bars down [if you] show it to me in writing. Show me something; get me something.' They can't do it."

Well, Howard, they say you can't fight City Hall, but Ed is trying. Who wins?

Howard Finkelstein: "In all likelihood the city, but it's is not clear. The city doesn't have a code to block security bars, but in the new code it requires a quick-release mechanism on bars if you alter the windows. Ed argues he isn't altering the windows. Code enforcement argues, by putting in security bars, you are altering the windows. Again, it's just not clear."

We contacted several people with Dania Beach. A building official for the city told us Ed can put up the bars, but he needs a different kind that allows egress. In other words, bars that would open and allow him to escape in case of a fire.

A code compliance official told us Ed is twisting the code to get what he wants, and that if he disagrees with the city he can let an appeal board interpret the code.

Howard says, good luck with that.

Howard Finkelstein: "The problem with fighting the government is that when you appeal to a board or a hearing officer, they all work for the same government. It's not what you would call the fairest of environments."

But Ed does have one bit of satisfaction. The crook that broke into his house and stole his safe didn't get much from it.

Ed Williams: "Whenever they did open it, it was empty, and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. (laughs)

Right now, a crook is not laughing. A city official also told us they are not picking on Ed as he believes. He put the bars up without a permit and they cited him. Of course, in Ed's view, he tried to get a permit and they refused to allow it. We will let you know how this one turns out.

Robbed of your peace of mind? Ready to see the bad guys behind bars? Contact us. You don't have to file an appeal; just a phone call or e-mail.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser 7News.

Contact Help Me Howard:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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