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Loxahatchee Groves code enforcement faces criticism

Posted at 7:53 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 04:11:21-05

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. — Loxahatchee Groves is a unique town. Run by a private company, the town is now facing more and more complaints about code enforcement. Some, including on council, said code enforcement is being used as a tool against residents.

“It’s very arbitrary,” said Julia Campbell, who used to own Farmer’s Daughter, a small business in the town.

“(It) opened in April of 1992, which is 26 years,” Campbell said.

Campbell believes code enforcement was used to kick her out.

“In Loxahatchee Groves, it’s who you know,” Campbell said. “And if you’re on the good side of the Underwoods (the town manager), they don’t mess with you. If you’re not, then forget it. They won’t leave you alone ever.”

Even council members raised the alarm bells.

“Personally, I’ve had issues with, with staff,” Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said during a council meeting. “I was attacked by code enforcement, which is been used as a tool in this town for a while.”

Another council member, Joyce Batcheler, wrote in her resignation letter in November:
“WHY is it OK in Loxahatchee, but NOT other communities to: Apply rules, regulations, and codes to residents differently.”

Contact 5 asked Code Enforcement Officer Barry Trombley for a comment.

“I have no comment,” Trombley said.

Trombley used to work for the Sheriff’s Office.

According to an internal affairs report, Trombley accidentally fired his gun at the office in 2004. He was suspended for 40 hours and faced a demotion as a result.

Trombley was then hired by the town manager, Bill Underwood, to work as the town’s code enforcement officer.

Campbell said she is not the only one who is facing arbitrary code enforcement issues.

“There is so many people,” Campbell said. “It’s like they’re trying to get rid of the old-timers.”

Her business is now closed.

“I miss it. I really do miss it,” Campbell said.

What was it like having to put the "closed" sign up after so many years?

“It was sad,” Campbell said, wiping away tears.

Underwood refused to go on camera but told us the accusations against code enforcement are “hogwash.”