July 21, 2008

Official’s ‘Professional Courtesy’ Questioned


YULEE - Nassau County Clerk of the Court John Crawford has taken issue with County Attorney David Hallman's interpretation of a county ordinance and the "professional courtesy" he said Hallman granted the former county attorney when he extended a deadline defined by ordinance.

Attorney Michael Mullin sent Hallman a letter Dec. 21 giving notice he planned to appeal, on behalf of developer Dennis Jasinsky, a decision made by Growth Management Director Walter Fufidio.

Jasinsky requested a one-year extension on plans to build the East Gate subdivision on the Amelia Concourse. Fufidio denied the request Dec. 7.

According to a letter he sent to the Nassau County Commission Wednesday, Crawford said county ordinance requires notices of appeal to be filed with his office within 30 days of a decision.

Appeal fees were paid to Hallman's office on March 13, but Crawford said he didn't receive the notice of appeal until June 2.

Crawford questioned if the appeal was made within the 30-day requirement because the letter said Mullin intended to file an appeal, which Crawford said differs from a notice of appeal.

Crawford called Hallman's office to discuss the 30-day requirement and in his letter said he was told Hallman granted Mullin a deadline extension as "professional courtesy."

In the letter Crawford also takes issue with Hallman asking the County Commission July 9 to grant him authority in determining if appeals are received on time, an authority Crawford says is unneeded.

"If the ordinance was vague or difficult to comprehend, that request would be understandable," Crawford wrote. "But the requirements of the ordinance are clear and need no legal interpretation."

In an e-mail Thursday, Hallman said sending a letter to his office is the same as sending it to the Clerk's Office since Hallman represents the Clerk of Court's office.

Hallman declined to comment further when reached by phone.

"But, I'm confident the legal advice I have given the board and my interpretation are correct," Hallman said.

Crawford said he would like to see the ordinance followed as written to ensure equal treatment of all Nassau citizens.

The County Commission is expected to address the appeal at a 7 p.m. public hearing on Monday, July 28, at the James S. Page Governmental Complex.

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