The Special Magistrate has jurisdiction to enforce the various codes and ordinances of the City of Hallandale Beach that have no criminal penalty, including but not limited to business tax receipts, fire, building, minimum housing, and zoning codes. The Special Magistrate has the authority to subpoena witnesses and records, order rulings on violations, assess fines, and order liens to be placed upon the property.
A code compliance specialist may request a hearing before the Special Magistrate, and Special Magistrate shall provide written notice of the hearing to the alleged violator. If the violation is corrected and then recurs, or if the violation is not corrected by the time specified for correction by the code compliance specialist, the case may be presented to the Special Magistrate even if the violation has been corrected prior to the Special Magistrate hearing.
Unless a hazard exists, property owners are given a reasonable amount of time to bring their property into compliance before a case is referred to the Special Magistrate.
- A hearing is held upon request of a code compliance specialist, or at such other times as may be necessary. All hearings of the Special Magistrate are open to the public and any person whose interests may be affected by the matter before the Special Magistrate shall be given an opportunity to be heard. Written notice of the time, date and place of the hearing and a reference to the ordinance violated is issued to the violator as required by Florida Statute Chapter. 162. This information can also be obtained by contacting the Code Compliance Division directly or online through the City’s self-help portal.
- Hearings are informal and need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. They are, however, conducted in accordance with accepted parliamentary procedures relative to motions and decisions. Fundamental due process is observed and governs all hearings, and the alleged violator has the right to be represented by an attorney at the hearing.
- The Special Magistrate issues orders having the force of law to command whatever steps are necessary to bring a violation into compliance, including fines, repair costs, and administrative costs. However, a separate hearing is not required to issue an order acknowledging compliance.
- The Magistrate is the authority for what order cases on the agenda are called, although, requests to be called early for emergencies can be made to the clerk. When a case is called, the City will present case information, evidence, and/or testimony first. The Special magistrate will then ask the property owner and/or representative to respond and present any additional information or evidence if they have any. The Special Magistrate will also allow any witnesses for either side to testify before rendering a decision. It is preferable for the property owner to attend the hearing but is not required.
- All relevant evidence shall be admitted if, in the opinion of the Special Magistrate, it is the type of evidence upon which reasonable and responsible persons would normally rely on in the conduct of business affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might make such evidence inadmissible over objections in civil actions. The Special Magistrate may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence.
- Hearsay evidence may be accepted for the purpose of supplementing or explaining any direct evidence, but such hearsay evidence shall not, in and of itself, be considered sufficient to support a finding or decision. Each party to the hearing shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, introduce exhibits, cross examine opposing witnesses, impeach witnesses, and rebut evidence.
- All testimony before the Special Magistrate shall be under oath and shall be recorded.
- The alleged violator or the city may cause the proceedings to be recorded by a certified court reporter or by a certified recording instrument.
- The burden of proof shall be with the code compliance specialist to show by the greater weight of the evidence that a code violation exists and that the alleged violator committed, or was responsible for maintaining, the violation.
Orders Issued by the Special Magistrate
- After the conclusion of the hearing, the Special Magistrate shall issue findings of fact and conclusions of law in a written order affording the proper relief consistent with state statutes and city ordinances. In determining the amount of the fine, if any, the Special Magistrate shall consider the following factors:
- The gravity of the violation;
- Any actions taken by the violator to correct the violation; and
- Any previous violations committed by the violator.
- Such order may require a violator to take whatever steps necessary to bring a violation into compliance by the date given at the hearing and subsequently placed in the order. The order may be announced orally at the meeting and then put in writing and mailed to the violator.
- Every compliance order of the Special Magistrate has the force of law, is in writing, and includes findings of fact and conclusions of law. Every compliance order of the Special Magistrate is signed by the Special Magistrate and filed and recorded with the clerk to the Special Magistrate. A copy of the signed order is mailed to the violator within two weeks of the hearing or where mailing would not be effective, by hand delivery by the code compliance specialist to the violator or other means of service. The Special Magistrate, in every proceeding, will make a decision without unreasonable or unnecessary delay.
- The Special Magistrate, upon notification by the code compliance specialist that a previous order of the Special Magistrate has not been complied with by the set date or upon finding that a repeat violation has been committed, may order the violator to pay a fine in an amount specified in this section for each day the violation continues past the date set by the Special Magistrate for compliance, or in the case of a repeat violation, for each day the repeat violation continues, beginning with the date the repeat violation is found to have occurred by the code compliance specialist. If a finding of a violation not complied in time, or a repeat violation has been made, a hearing shall not be necessary for issuance of the order imposing the fine.
- Fines imposed pursuant to this section shall be as follows:
- A fine not to exceed $250.00 per day for a first violation and may include all costs and expenses of repair incurred by the city.
- A fine not to exceed $500.00 per day for a repeat violation and may include all costs and expenses of repair incurred by the city.
- A fine not to exceed $5,000.00 per violation, if the Special Magistrate finds a violation to be irreparable or irreversible in nature.
Florida Statute Chapter 162.11 states: An aggrieved party, including the local governing body, may appeal a final administrative order of an enforcement board to the circuit court. Such an appeal shall not be a hearing de novo but shall be limited to appellate review of the record created before the enforcement board. An appeal shall be filed within 30 days of the execution of the order to be appealed.
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