City Walk found in violation of code during lengthy magistrate hearing

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The controversial City Walk Shelter on Mahan Drive was the topic of discussion in a Code Magistrate hearing Thursday; the magistrate ultimately ruled against the transitional housing facility, after almost three hours of testimony and public comment.

City Walk was served code enforcement papers last week and given until Saturday to comply but they have said they will fight and continue to operate.

A Development Review Committee had denied the transitional residential change of use permit for the building in early March.

During Thursday’s hearing, the code magistrate determined that City Walk was in violation of City code.

However, under Florida law, two public hearings are required before any fines can be levied; that means no fines were issued on Thursday.

The hearings are usually held the first Thursday of each month; the next one will likely be on May 6th.

Thursday’s hearing began with City Walk’s attorney requesting a continuance, saying there were constitutional issues at play that did not fall under the current magistrate’s scope. That motion was denied.

Other motions filed by City Walk on Thursday include a “Motion to Dismiss: violation of 42 U.S.C.A § 2000cc - Religious land use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment” and a“Motion to Dismiss: Underlying Ordinances Impose a Prior Restraint in Violation of the First Amendment; charges are constitutionally barred.”

The hearing started around 2:30 and ended just before 5 p.m.

The hearing was similar to an informal court proceeding; the City had a presentation and called witnesses, and City Walk did the same.

According to one City witness, in addition to the code issue, the building itself at 1709 Mahan Drive has serious issues, needing some kind of fire suppressant system and an evaluation of the structure of the second floor.

City Walk argued Thursday that this is more than a homeless shelter with people able to be there during the day now.

Miller also says that calls for service to TPD have drastically dropped since January, with new safety policies in place.