John and Teresa Sauer, and son, John Jr., expected to be settled in their new home for Thanksgiving, instead they were in a hotel thanks to legal actions taken by Fernandina Beach City Commission candidate Ronald “Chip” Ross.
Mr. Sauer and his family bought a house at 205 Broome Street in Fernandina Beach’s historical district in February 2015 and spent between $80-90,000 renovating it, only to have the financial roof cave in on them this year thanks to Ross.
In addition to keeping the Sauer family out of their home, the suit filed by Ross, also cost the city’s tax payers $20,000, the cost of the city’s $10K insurance deductible each on the cases. Ross doesn’t care and said as much in a letter to the editor in the News-Leader.
However, the court didn’t agree with Ross. On November 9 Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk found that Ross’ challenges were based upon “inaccurate contentions”, that he “presented no relevant acceptable data or analysis which contradicted” that action and that he “did not prove” that the City’s action was in violation of Florida Law. The Administrative Law Judge’s ruling was well reported in detail in the Fernandina Observer by Adam Kaufman. (see: https://fernandinaobserver.com/2017/11/09/no-basis-in-law-or-fact-alj-finds-against-ross/).
The judge recommended that the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity issue a final order determining that City’s Comprehensive Plan amendments are in compliance with Florida law.
City Attorney Tammi Bach said that she doesn’t foresee a problem now, assuming the state will provide approval within the next few days. Ross said he won’t appeal, thus enabling the Sauer family, after suffering much financial hardship because of Ross, to finally legally occupy their home.
But Ross’ legal abuse and apparent disregard for their financial and personal concerns have taken a heavy financial and personal toll on the Sauers. A part time doctor at the local Baptist Medical Center’s Emergency Room, it appears Dr. Ross needs a remedial course in “bedside manner and compassion.” He leaves “First do no harm!”, one of the principal precepts of bioethics that all healthcare students are taught in school, in the ER when resisting neighbors and developers he feels operate on terms that don’t match his.
The Sauer family, which moved here from Ft. Lauderdale, has been staying in a hotel, with their 24-year-old special needs son, at a cost of several thousand dollars, since they have been prohibited from occupying their renovated home due to Ross’ legal actions. Mr. Sauer (61), who is in retail management with Bed Bath & Beyond, commutes daily to a company store in Brunswick, GA.
Why did Ross do it? Mr. Sauer is baffled, but thinks it may have something to do with Ross believing that newly renovated residences in his 2nd Street and Broome area may hinder his view of the river from his home on North 3rd Street, about a block from the Sauer’s house.
Ross says he filed the actions to contest whether amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan in June 2017 were in compliance with Florida Statute. Really?
“Several months ago while I was working on my house, Chip Ross came into the yard, introduced himself, said he was a neighbor, and that he would have us in court for years,” recalls Mr. Sauer relating his first encounter with Ross. “He didn’t ask any questions about what we were doing or our plans. I had no idea who he was other than he was haughty and arrogant.”
Soon after the meeting with Ross the Sauer family applied for a certificate of occupancy and that’s when Ross started his barrage of legal actions that he became notorious for in his previous residence in Maryland.
While the Sauer’s Ross nightmare might be ending, the City of Fernandina Beach’s may be just beginning unless voters cast their ballots for Ross’ highly-qualified opponent, Orlando Avila, on December 12 in the runoff election for a City Commission seat.
Avila has been endorsed by a solid mix of local politicians, business people, activists, former political opponent Medardo Monzon, and many other well respected members of the community including: Former Mayor Ed Boner; newly elected Mayor Johnny Miller; former 12-year city clerk Mary Mercer; State Senator Aaron Bean; and architect Benjamin Morrison, a Planning Advisory Board (PAB) member, a group that Ross was booted off of because he couldn’t get along with other members. Contributors to his campaign (Nick Deonas, Eric Corbett, John Cascone, John Stillwell, etc.) include a mixed bag of long-time politically diverse residents and respected business people, demonstrating that his platform has broad appeal. Avila’s positions on balancing property rights and protecting the environment as well as his stance on public/private partnerships and common sense regulations that promote local businesses and encourage new ones, intelligently and fairly address environmental issues. In addition he’s a local business owner and has four adopted children in the local school system where his wife teaches. He’s right out of the cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
On the other hand Ross is playing the role of Mr. Potter, opposite Avila’s George Bailey, while his supporters are reminiscent of the Happy Days TV series minus the “Happy” component. His self-righteous, tree-hugging campaign crew features a glassy-eyed “Walking Dead” cast chanting absurd kooky-talk that wants to revert Fernandina to a 1950s agrarian community growing organic soybeans to produce tofu. This “no-growth, no-industry, get-off-my-lawn-you-little-bastards” cabal of Luddites seethes with disdain for anyone uttering the words “development” or “progress” considering them all, to select two words, “deplorable” and “irredeemable.” The sight of a hammer generates the same reaction from this catatonic crowd that a crucifix did from Dracula.
Ross and supporters are also challenging a planned 224-unit apartment development at South 14th St and Lime, saying the site is a protected wetland, when in fact it is a stagnant field, used by vagrants and as a dumping ground that lacks proper rain runoff.
It adds up that Ross, with his litigious and mean-spirited tendencies, would maneuver a campaign circus-clown car of morally meddlesome supporters spewing radicalized misplaced fury and venomous anti-establishment notions as it sputters, lurches and backfires toward the December 12 runoff election.
Ross has a pattern of filing suits wherever he lives. According to Maryland and Washington D.C. news reports Ross tried to strip a local bar in his former residence of its liquor license and had legal charges brought against him. The entire, very bizarre report of Ross’s activities can be found by going to: http://www.thebaynet.com/articles/0906/prominent-tiki-bar-foe-charged-with-intoxicated-endangerment.html. A Washington Post article can be read in the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ). An attorney for the Solomon’s Island Tiki Bar was quoted in an April 19, 2012 Southern Maryland Weekly Galvert Gazette article headlined “Local wins give Tiki Bar much to celebrate” saying that his client (Tiki Bar) “spent between $300,000 and $500,000 on attorneys, architects and legal fees over the years defending itself from Ross.”
In a November 27 email to me critical of my previous articles, Ross defends his actions in his previous residence as follows:
“We owned a house that was built in 1905 on Solomons Island. The back yard bordered a property containing a motel and a 1500 square foot seasonal, non-conforming outdoor bar – the Tiki Bar. Two individuals [Terry Clarke (convicted felon for drugs and assault and gun charges)][ Patrick Donovan (multiple charges for assault and other various crimes)] bought the bar.
Subsequently they expanded the 1,500 square foot bar to a 15,000 square foot outdoor bar without any permits and in violation of multiple zoning ordinances. The troubles between the bar owners and the County and neighbors began. I believe the bar and the County are still in litigation.
Attached is a letter from the Circuit Court Judge who heard all of the cases. The letter speaks for itself concerning my legal odyssey in Maryland. Not the picture you painted, by the judge who heard all the cases.
Several of the Cases were heard by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. [2nd highest court in Maryland] Attached is a copy of a case I brought pro se arguing that the County Board of Appeals had violated the rights of a citizen in their administrative procedures. This is now Maryland case law.
The story had many twists and turns that you never bothered to investigate.
Perhaps before you write your blog you might call the person you are vilifying and determine that you have the correct and entire story.
Hope all is well.”
Ross sent me two pdf files but I could only get the letter from the judge to reproduce here. Twice I requested he send links to the documents that I could post but never heard back from him.
Despite the nice note from the judge there is little doubt that no matter where he goes, Ross leaves a conflicted trail of community clashes, animosity, law suits and negative press in his wake.
I’m not a Von Trapp, and I don’t need to be one to deduct that the “dunes” hereabouts will be alive, not with music, but with legal disputes, spitefulness, anger, and lunacy if Chip Ross is elected, rather than Orlando Avila. Just look at his track record as private citizen here and elsewhere.
The “If You Thought The Movie Airplane Was Funny, Just Wait” Department: The only thing in the Ross platform I agree with is his opposition to the silly “looks-like-an-airplane-airport-terminal.” Aliva also agrees that the airport terminal design is dumb. But sadly that doesn’t matter anymore, because the current commission voted, 4-1, to proceed with this expensive architectural joke, that’s now under construction.
I was approached by a local gentleman at the massive new “you-need-a-map-to-find-the-beer-cooler” Harris-Teeter grocery store the other day, who said he was an American Airlines pilot who also dislikes the terminal concept. “I have a lot of friends here who are commercial pilots and we all think this design will make Amelia Island the laughing stock of the aviation industry,” he volunteered without prompting.
I don’t think any of our current commissioners or the city manager have pilot’s licenses. I presume that most of them have been in an airplane, but the extent of their aviation expertise consists of putting their tray tables in a locked and upright position. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.
City Manager Dale Martin, continues to spout the absurdity that the impractical and nutty-looking $4.2 million terminal building will not be funded by tax money.
In a recent weekly “City Notes” column Martin said: “…the airport terminal will be funded with monies derived from airport usage and rents — not city property taxes. Additional funding has been provided by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation, the funds which are derived from aviation fuel taxes and aviation ticket fees.”
Who does Mr. Martin think pays fuel taxes and aviation ticket fees? UFO passengers? And why will our expensive terminal generate more usage and rentals if it looks like an airplane rather than a reasonably priced normal looking terminal building? Please tell me what I’m missing here because nothing I’ve heard from supporters of this goofy project makes any sense, unless I misunderstood and they’re constructing an airport amusement park?
A solution might be to do what the Italians did to one of the world’s most celebrated architectural blunders — the Leaning Tower of Pisa — and convert it into a famous and lucrative tourist attraction. Or hide it. Legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said: “The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.”
In this case kudzu might eventually play a major role at our airport.
“GERONIMO!” President Trump probably generated more positive publicity for the few surviving World War II Navajo Code Talkers earlier this past Monday than would have occurred otherwise when he said to them: “I just want to thank you because you’re very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her [Elizabeth Warren] ‘Pocahontas.'”
Trump refers to Warren as ‘Pocahontas’ because she falsely claimed to be Native American until becoming a tenured Harvard professor. Senator Warren lied about her heritage and misappropriated a native American identity to advance her career. Despite her own devious dealings she called Trump’s remark “racist.” I wonder what she calls what she did when she lied and deprived a native American of an educational opportunity?
When asked by the media whether he was offended by the president’s remark, Marine Corps veteran Thomas Begay, a veteran Navajo Code Talker, said he was not. He also said that while he was serving in the Marines the former paratrooper yelled “Geronimo” when jumping out of airplanes and that didn’t bother him either. For those few that don’t know, Geronimo was an Apache Indian chief.
Things I wish I’d Said: “The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.” — Ogden Nash.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If you want to have a lot of fun and be well entertained this evening (Friday, Dec. 1) then head to the Sandbar on Main Beach for a no-cover charge Elvis Impersonator event, 7:30-9:30. Get there early to get a good seat. I have also been told that Hupp Huppman, a classy, velvet-throated local singer, will be a regular on the indoor Sandbar stage every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. Oh, and this Saturday, a soft rock group called Duval Station will entertain from 7-11 p.m at Sandbar. And speaking of regulars, you can find the gifted and fun guitarist Dan Voll, performing every Tuesday evening beginning at 6:45 at the 12 South 2nd Street PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden. If you want to hear your neighbors sing or step into the spotlight yourself, then Wednesday nights at the Fletcher Ave. Surf starting at 6:30 p.m. features Karaoke and all-you can eat wings.