Never Give Up

Maybe your parents told you as a kid, “Never give up.” If you think you are right, don’t take no for an answer. Tonight, the stories of two men who were on Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser kept fighting after their stories aired, and it was worth it.

We first talked to Joel in 2015 by his new boat lift…

Joel Behar: “The city came out, they approved the building permit and we did everything correctly, and we even had the final inspection and the permits closed out with the boat on the lift.”

Angel Martinez’s lift was approved to be perpendicular to his property. So was Brian Zapulas’. Then the problems started for the three North Miami homeowners.

Joel Behar: “And then I get a letter in the mail saying that the fines are going to start and I need to get my boat off the lift.”

Each man was told to remove the boat lift and pilings they had paid around $30,000 dollars to install. When they refused, North Miami started fining them $100 a day for having the perpendicular boat lifts the city approved.

Joel Behar: “It’s really sad. It’s really sad, and I have lost sleep over it.”

The city manager of North Miami at the time stopped the fines and told Help Me Howard they would look for a solution. Our story aired in Sept. 2015.

And the long battle began.

Joel Behar: “I learned a lot battling the bureaucracy.”

Did he ever. The planning commission considered the issue in February 2016. Joel was there.

North Miami councilman: “It appears that we are in a situation where this has not been adequately researched.”

Joel argued he just did was the city said he could do.

Joel Behar: “And I don’t feel it’s fair that we should be punished for doing things the correct way.”

In March, it went before the North Miami City Commission. Opposition to Joel and his dock lined up.

North Miami resident: “If you live in a waterfront home and you have a boat, you ain’t got a hardship.”

North Miami councilman: “I will make this brief. Staff screwed up. Staff should fix this.”

In April, a public hearing… Joel was there.

Another public hearing in June to discuss the docks. Of course, Joel was there.

Joel Behar: “The number of meetings was absurd.”

Then on Sept. 13 and again on Sept. 27, the city commission, in front of a packed house, voted to amend the ordinance so Joel and his neighbors could keep their boat lifts.

Joel Behar: “When I came into this, I was told you can’t fight city hall, you can’t beat city hall. You can win, and we did.”

It took 21 months from the time we met Joel, meeting after meeting, but Joel and his neighbors got to keep their boat lifts. And their neighbors can now install their own lifts.

Joel Behar: “Help Me Howard was a lot of help. They showed up to every meeting and, Help Me Howard, I can’t thank enough.”

Richard Cooper fought a battle over water as well… Water from sprinklers.

Richard is a professional piano player and was hired to perform for an event outside at the Mariott in Pompano Beach. Everything was great until…

Richard Cooper: “And they’re screaming, they’re going, ‘Somebody turned the sprinklers on.’ My gear is getting totally soaked.”

Richard’s two electronic pianos and a mixing board were ruined.

Richard Cooper: “I felt sick to my stomach.”

Richard then contacted us. The hotel told us they would pay half, or $2,500 dollars to replace the equipment. Richard said no, and after our story aired he sued them for $5,000 in small claims court.

Richard Cooper: “They never showed up. The judge just said it’s in favor of the plaintiff, which was me.”

Richard won and collected his money.

Richard Cooper: “And by the way, thank you guys for the efforts you made on my behalf. I’m really really glad I called you guys.”

Richard and Joel don’t know each other, but they have one thing in common. They never gave up. They kept fighting. They both won. And we were there to help them. Nice.

Soaked by a problem that’s sinking you? Ready for a lift? Dock it with us. We won’t give you a watered down solution. We’ll give you one sprinkled with a little legal knowledge from Howard.

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

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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