UPDATE (4:48 p.m., Aug. 6, 2014)
Frank Rogers accrued more than $79,000 in blight related fines under Orange’s zoning laws. After a settlement agreement reached on Aug. 1, he’ll pay $4,000.
“We got Mr. Rogers into compliance,” Town Attorney Vincent Marino said. “Instead of fighting over almost $80,000 and spending all of that money in court fees we decided to go this route.”
Marino said traditionally courts view zoning violation fines as coercive and not punitive measures. His experience has been that once the underlying issues are corrected, the courts tend to dismiss what they feel are excessive fines.
Rogers had three properties out of compliance with blight regulations. Fines began accruing at $100 a day on each property starting in September of 2013. By April of 2014, each property was facing $26,500 in fines.
Rogers requested hearings to appeal the fines levied against his properties. By the time hearings began, unregistered and malfunctioning cars and debris were removed and the properties were sufficiently remediated to fall within zoning regulations.
So instead of more than $79,000 in fines, Rogers will pay the $4,000 in monthly payments of $500 each. The first payment has already been posted.
“We settled on a number that Mr. Rogers could afford to pay but still has some economic impact for him,” Marino said.
Should Rogers fail to make his payments, according to Marino, the town now has mortgage liens on each of his properties and can move to foreclose.
“We’re holding the hammer,” Marino said.
UPDATE (11:57 a.m., Aug. 6, 2014)
According to Orange Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Dinice a settlement was reached with Frank Rogers on Aug. 5, after The Orange Times went to print.
Dinice did not have the exact details for the settlement but will make them available as soon as possible. Check back for more updates.
Lifelong Orange resident Frank Rogers might owe the town of Orange a little bit of money. By the last official tally, the bill comes to roughly $79,500; give or take a couple weeks of additional fines.
“What’s this all about, some cars?” Rogers pondered when asked about the fines at the Orange Business Expo. He said that he thought the town was out to get him and that a couple of old cars on some of his properties did not justify the fines he was being hit with. He then suggested consulting his attorney on any additional questions or comments.
Cars, however, are exactly at the heart of the issue.
Rogers was being fined $100 a day, since last September, due to blight violations on three properties he owns under different names and LLCs. Two of those properties were specifically noted to have a number of unregistered and inoperable vehicles on them. The last time the fines were tallied was last April.
Shortly thereafter, the cars and some debris at the third property were removed, according to Orange Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Dinice.
Rogers has since been facing hearings with some negotiations regarding the fines. At the time of writing no arrangements had been agreed to but a hearing was scheduled between deadline and publication. The story will be updated online if new information becomes available.
The Orange Times was unable to reach Roger’s attorney at his office.