Flagler County Commission Says Legal Action Could Be Imminent In Courthouse Space Dispute

By on July 17, 2019 in WNDB News

Bunnell, FL – Flagler County Commissioners are getting frustrated over the issue of space for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. At their meeting earlier this week, Commissioners, the County Administrator, and the County Attorney gave the issue much consideration.

Vice-Chair David Sullivan said that sometimes legal action is the only solution. Commission Chair Donald O’Brien clarified what a letter to County Clerk Tom Bexley should say.

County Attorney Al Hadeed said the Florida Supreme Court has set a precedent in this type of situation. What is required when parties can not agree to the allocation of space is first, a petition would be made to get into a courtroom, followed by an evidentiary hearing. A judge outside of the 7th Circuit would be appointed to hear the case.

Commissioners voted to authorize the hiring of a company to conduct a space study and to give Clerk of Court Bexley 48 hours to agree to the space study. Deputy Clerk Luke Givens, who was at the meeting as a representative for Bexley, told Commissioners that Bexley was indisposed for at least the next week.

Commissioners have been dealing with this situation for more than a year since Sheriff Department employees had to evacuate the Bunnell operations center. At this week’s meeting, renting the Sheriff’s Office space somewhere else but that could cost $1 million during the time it takes to build the new operations center in Palm Coast. Commissioners don’t want to spend that money and Sheriff Staly is not in favor of it.

They could keep doing what they’ve been doing and wait for Bexley to give up more space but he’s already said he will not do so and Deputy Clerk Givens reiterated that information.

The other solution is for the Commission, as landlords, to seize the space or begin legal action. Commissioners did vote to hire a law firm that could carry out the lawsuit if things come to that. The County Attorney said that a lawsuit will be “an extremely challenging, expensive process, and it is without a doubt placing the taxpayer as the ultimate loser.”

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