Palm Coast will lend its support to other cities trying to uphold the legality of red light camera citations by filing a friend-of-the-court brief for two cases soon coming before the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida League of Cities will pay for City Attorney William Reischmann’s firm to file the brief, Reischmann said at a Nov. 27 workshop of the Palm Coast City Council. His firm is also filing a similar brief for the city of Casselberry.
The court is only considering the legality of citations issued prior to 2010, when Florida passed House Bill 325, which created the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, and with it, regulations for red light cameras that allow the issuance of traffic citations to vehicles caught on camera.
Before this law was passed, cities could only issue civil citations for red light camera violations.
Lawsuits followed, carrying assertions that the red light cameras circumvented state and federal traffic laws. The city of Aventura won an appeal over the issue; Orlando lost. The Supreme Court will hear both cases.
The brief will “raise issues that may be specific to the city of Palm Coast … or matters that have not been raised, which should have been raised,” Reischmann said.
A ruling could settle litigation on the issue that’s been circulating through Florida’s lower courts. Supporting other cities is in Palm Coast’s best interest, said City Manager Jim Landon.
+ Citizens to City Council: Rethink Bulldog Drive actions
Applause erupted four times during Tuesday’s meeting of the Palm Coast City Council: Once after each community member took the podium during public comment to defend Gus Ajram.
Ajram, who owns a lot along Bulldog Drive, spoke in protest of work planned for the road in conjunction with Palm Coast’s Community Redevelopment Area at a Nov. 21 City Council meeting. He said he felt that the city was trying to manipulate residents out of their property, including his own.
“What you have done to Gus Ajram is unethical,” said MaryEllen Lent. She asked that the city either release his lot from the Development of Regional Impact project or compensate for his financial losses in an appropriate way.
Other residents voiced similar concerns about Ajram’s treatment and about the city’s acquisition of land held by two other Bulldog Drive businesses, which have since relocated.
City Manager Jim Landon said the city has not manipulated anyone out of their land. “We did not force these tenants out,” he said. “They actually came to me personally and said they would like to move, and that they city would assist with their costs of moving, and we agreed to it.”
Landon also said that, after the city changed Bulldog Drive zoning and faced backlash, the zoning was changed back.