STOP WORK ORDER LEADS TO CONDEMNED PROPERTY

OK. Its not a house, its a building on a dock, but I know there are many of you who can probably sympathisize and many who know a thing or two about fighting city hall. Please advise - the way things are going in this country, this could be any one of us next!
I'm trying to help a friend of mine who has a problem with the local small town city hall and the [State] Marine Resources Commission (lets call it SMRC). Friend has the deed to an old dock with a (historic) building on it (and public access off the end of the road) and wants to fix it up and have a docking, rental and repair business for small boats.
There are lots of side details in this case, of course, but I think I can cut to the relevant parts without missing anything important.
It seems there is a neighbor who owns the adjacent waterfront lot (a lawyer), who, along with his buddies the city attorney, the city manager, the mayor and probably a few members of the city council, want my friend out of the way so they can take advantage of the new laws they just got pushed through the city council, over the protests of many local residents, which will allow high-density housing to be built on the waterfront.
The SMRC has jurisdiction because the structures are built in the water, but they must rely on the local building inspector and city engineer to determine the soundness of the structure. The determination from the city is that the structure is unsound and in need of extensive repairs, which my friend already knew and was ready, willing and able to do when he bought the thing. The SMRC has given him 6 months to either make the structure sound, or remove the structure completely, at which time he would then have no claim at all because it is now grandfathered in, but would never be permitted to be built from scratch now under current regulations.
The problem is that the city will not approve any plans, grant any permits, or allow any progress whatsoever. Some work was done to prevent/repair storm damage before and after a recent severe storm, and the city issued a stop work order when they detected even that activity.
After being stonewalled by the city and with his deadline to fix or remove the structure running out with the state, an appeal was made with the local circuit court. The judge ruled against my friend and with the city.
The local congressional representative for that district was contacted and my friend was informed that when that particular city manager, city attorney and judge are working together, nothing can be done.
We've heard a rumor of some sort of a law (maybe from an electrical codes manual suppliment?) that says government can't stop one from making improvements and repairs and then condemn a property for lack of improvements and repairs, but we can't find that anwhere.
There might be some sort of an legal assistance organization that would take up the cause of property rights... Or some sort of historical society with pull at higher levels to get things preserved and restored... But I've not found them.
Any ideas on what he might do next? He doesn't have tens of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers to fight city hall...
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he needs: 1. a home improvement loan 2. an attorney 3. a contractor.
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contact local media, tv news, newspaper they love little people being pushed around stories
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I second the notion of contacting an attorney and getting the local media involved, get the attorney first and see what he/she has to say about contacting the media. If your "friend" is acting in accordance with the rules and regs then the media would be your I mean his best bet!
Searcher
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That is what he needs though. Read what you wrote and you will see the town is holding the cards and the lawyers.
The media attention suggestion may help. Private funding is just not worth the fight, sadly.
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Talk to an lawyer in a Different county since you don`t know who is friends, 1st visits are often free or just a small fee. Freeadvise.com is a free legal service to help get you started.
How and why was your permit denied, do you have proof such as a recorded phone conversation or letters from the permit dept, what was the reason.
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friends, 1st visits are often free or just a small fee. Freeadvise.com is a free legal service to help get you started.
I guess the more that are contacted, not only the better the chances of finding one who could help, but also there is the value of fine-tuning the relevant details of the case each time it is presented fresh, as well as all those little pieces of information and advice that come up as each new person puts in their two cents worth from their own base of experience, perception and knowledge...

recorded phone conversation or letters from the permit dept, what was the reason.
Ah! Forgot to mention, there was, I hear, an email from the State to the City to the effect of "Well, what can we do to get rid of this problem?" that turned up in a FOIA request - the party that allowed it into the file was apparently recently passed over for an expected promotion, got fed up, and quit working with the city.
Thanks!
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He is looking at this the wrong way, Sounds like they want the property for a future development. He might be holding the winning cards, his little piece of dirt might be worth more than he thinks. It could be a factor in the development. He should find a COMPETENT attorney. Then start negotiations to sell them the property, If they need it they will pay more than it's worth it's all about negotiation and holding your ground. I would start by checking if there is a master plan for the area, likely includes your friends area. It's not know your enemy but know your new friend. You need to know all your option's, try to think every aspect out, try not to get angry, turn what seems like negative into a positive. Maybe offer the property for a percentage of the development.
Now here was our family situation and why I'm giving this advice. We had a piece of property in S.F. it was condemned and on a 99 year lease. The Co. that leased also owned every building on the block. They also would not let us out of the lease ( the lease was 1/5 of value) well there plan included a 14 to 16 story building in the future. We had the winning hand, they needed our little piece of the pie for their project to work. 2 years ago they bought our piece of pie. On the down side it was ten years of on and off negotiation getting to know your new friend,. The last two years were the deal maker. So it might take time. We got over 5 times the appraised value, also this is a very condensed story there were a lot of factors.

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I agree with Sacramento Dave about the hidden motive here. Has your friend offered to meet with "the enemy", so he can simply ask them what needs to happen in order for anything to proceed? Why ask that question? Simple: Docks need constant maintenance, or they only get uglier, and sometimes dangerous. Certainly the town doesn't want THAT to happen, so they're holding out for SOMETHING.
Can he get the inspector to tell him it's already a dangerous structure, and put it in writing? If yes, then he's got a good reason to invite the press in for a look. They will ask why the town will not let him repair a dangerous structure.
The other possibility is that they've seen boat repair facilities that look like junk yards. Some of them get that way. You'd think they'd just come out and say that, and stipulate certain appearance requirements.
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Document everything With a letter/e-mail let them know your more than willing to work with them and making an effort to comply. It will pay off if you end up in court.

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And everything that's mailed (on paper) should be done with return receipt requested.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Is the building registered as an historic/landmark building? Might be laws against changing or removing it.

You haven't seen "bloodthirsty" until investors start buying up property for high density building. Got four little condos within a block of mine, demo'd and ready for new buildings.
A condo, worth $100,000 five years ago, is on land worth $1,000,000 now - a conservative idea of what is going on "on the water" in FL.

If the friend has no documentation of the defects, or what is required to bring it up to standard, he'd better get with it. Reading local code should help, but it sure sounds like an out-of-town attorney is in order.

Probably the mayor's brother-in-law. C-person has no federal issue to defend, it appears.

My local codes differ for single-family, multi- and rentals. The agency that issued the condemnation and/or stop-work should have a website with details for satisfaction and/or appeals. Best read up.

Flood insurance rules may come into play. In our flood zone, and probably at least state-wide if not nationally, 50% damage means a residence has to be raised another story (or ? feet). Commercial property, I have no idea. Is this a commercial building on a residential lot? Sounds pretty complicated. In my area, a property on the water at one time could buy the bottom-land, which our condo does. We also escape paying state tax on it because we obtained it at a certain time. Soooooo complicated.
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