The Special Master is a lawyer in good standing with the Florida Bar or a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator retained to hear cases involving violations of the Lake County Code, including the Land Development Regulations. The Special Master has all powers granted by statute, ordinance or by law.
The Special Master proceedings are quasi-judicial in nature. There are generally separate agendas for Code Enforcement and LCSO Animal Services. The Special Master may, however, reorder items on the agenda based on circumstances for cases being heard that day.
If a violation is found to exist, the Special Master will issue an order specifying a fine amount which may be levied and/or the date by which the violation(s) must be corrected.
Special Master hearings are usually held in the County Commission Chambers on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 315 W. Main St., Tavares, FL. Typically, these hearings are held on the second Wednesday of each month with Animal Services hearings beginning at 9 a.m. and Code Enforcement beginning at 10 a.m. Notification to the affected parties is provided as required by law. The public is welcome to attend.
Cases are general presented in the following order:
- The particulars and charges for each case are presented by the County Attorney, or other county representative.
- Staff provides initial testimony and presentation of evidence of the alleged violation(s) staff.
- The persons involved in the case, including both witnesses and the Respondent, are asked to step to the podium to be sworn in and provide testimony.
- Special Master renders a decision regarding the presence of violation(s) after hearing and considering presentations from the staff, Respondent and other participants, and asking pertinent questions.
- If a fine is levied, the Respondent may opt to pay the fine immediately following hearing. If the fine is not paid immediately following the hearing the order will be recorded in the public record and released upon payment of fine(s) and recording costs.
Documentation of the Special Master Orders is mailed to the respondent(s) after the public hearing. For the results of the public hearing, contact the Public Hearing Coordinator at 352-742-3950.
Minutes of Special Master public hearings are available through the Lake County Office of Code Enforcement. If a verbatim transcript of the hearings is desired, the respondent must retain a private court reporter at their own cost. For more information or questions please call 352-742-3950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A brochure which has guidelines to assist individuals who represent themselves before the Special Master Hearing is available here.