Rocks on Property

(WSVN) - He says he let the City of Fort Lauderdale use his lot to store their equipment. Then some rocks were put there, and he got fined by the city he says he let use his property. Don’t believe it? Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Alvin Lewis’ father Lucian played a major role in Fort Lauderdale’s black history. A man so prominent, a park bears his name.

Alvin Lewis: “So we own several businesses in the area, and my father, a park was named after my father, called Lewis Chisom Park, in remembrance and dedication to the area.”

Alvin Lewis has passed away, but Alvin still owns several properties in Fort Lauderdale, including an empty lot which, Alvin says, he has let the city use as a staging area for years.

Alvin Lewis: “So a staging area is what the city uses when they place their equipment in one specific area, and I really don’t mind because, in essence, it helps the city out a little bit.”

In return for using his lot, Alvin says city workers have mowed the property and kept it clean for him.

And then, earlier this year, Alvin says his neighbors saw a big pile of gravel being dumped on the lot.

Alvin Lewis: “The city had a pile of rocks right there.

????: “And then a couple of months they put this big old pile. They had the Bobcats and county stuff out here.”

Alvin says, when he stopped by the property to see the four-foot tall pile of gravel city employees were there…

Alvin Lewis: “They said, ‘Don’t worry, Lewis, we’ll take care of everything.’ So I went on about my business.”

Alvin says he was told a city subcontractor put the rocks there. Eventually they were removed, and the ones left were spread out a few inches thick.

And then…

Alvin lewis: “I get a citation from the city saying that I’m being cited for the rock that is here.”

That’s right. Was being fined for having rocks on his lot. Rocks he blames the city or someone they hired for putting there.

Alvin Lewis: “And meanwhile, I’m being fined $50 a day, and they said, ‘If you don’t pay the fine, we will put a lien on your property.'”

The fines have reached $1,300. The rocks are still there, as Alvin says he is being punished by a city he let use his lot as a staging area, for free, for years.

Alvin Lewis: “No good deed goes unpunished. This was my good deed, and I see that eventually I have gotten punished.”

Well, Howard, someone put rocks on Alvin’s property and now the city is coming after him. What’s the law on this?

Howard Finkelstein: “If the city put the rocks there, they have to remove them and they cannot fine Alvin for what they did. If the city did not put the rocks there and someone else did, they can fine him and force him to remove the rocks.”

We contacted Fort Lauderdale, and a spokesman was upset we are doing a story with “false accusations that the city was somehow responsible for leaving the gravel at the property.”

Chaz Adams wrote, “Without a cellphone photo, video, license plate, truck number, name, etc., there is no evidence that this was done by city workers.”

He added, “Among all the individuals you have supposedly rounded up who claim they saw workers leave gravel at the property, no one reported the incident to the city.”

But the good news, Fort Lauderdale has what’s called “Make a Difference Day,” where volunteers clean up the city. On that day, the city asked the volunteers to clear the gravel off the lot. It will now be replaced with grass.

However, the city keeps fining Alvin, now reaching $1,500 in fines.

But the spokesman wrote, at a Nov. 17th hearing, “The city will ask the potential fines be stopped, and once ground cover is in place, there will be a follow-up hearing where the city will request that no fines be imposed.”

Alvin Lewis: “I’m extremely happy. I’m ecstatic.”

Hopefully, the city will wipe out the fines, and Alvin has found a way to make sure this never happens again.

Alvin Lewis: “I explained to code enforcement that the city is no longer allowed to park any type of their trucks on my property. So that relationship has been severed, because of what the city has me going through now.”

Can’t blame Alvin for that. Now, the city spokesman is adamant that they didn’t put the gravel on the lot because they don’t use that kind of gravel, and they don’t use private lots for staging areas, which comes as a real surprise to Alvin.

And by the way, we will be at that hearing to see if the city wipes out the fines against Alvin. So we will let you know what happens..

Found yourself between a rock and a hard place? Ready to smooth things out? Contact us. Hopefully we can provide a good deed to wipe out any punishment.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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