WAKULLA, Co. (WTXL) - The owners of a property in Crawfordville say they are being targeted by the County because of who they allow to live in their home.
For most of the year the Miller family and Wakulla county have been going back and forth over code violations at house located on 55 Ball Court. The catch? The Miller family uses the property to house people they say that have no other place to go, including registered Sex Offenders.
At a July 8 Code Enforcement Board Meeting, Renee Miller and her attorney appeared before the County regarding 4 accused code violations. One of those violations claimed that there were more than 2 unrelated people living in the home at a time, even though the house was not zoned as either a boarding house, a "Recovery Home", or a "Residential Treatment Facility".
Miller doesn't dispute that there have been as many as 4 unrelated adults living in the home at a time, she does however maintain that the property should be classified as a "Family Care Home" which is allowed under their current zoning status. A "Family Care Home" is a dwelling that houses up to six unrelated people and provides them with housing and food in addition to supervision and personal care.
Renee Miller runs the home in conjunction with her City Walk Urban Mission. City Walk is a ministry based charity founded by the Millers that raises funds by selling donated items at its Thrift Store in Tallahassee. The Wakulla County Code Enforcement Board voted that because the house was being funded through the Mission, and at times housing more than two unrelated people, it was considered a boarding house which it not allowed under the current zoning regulations.
Since 2013, Miller says she has allowed people to stay in the home while they were working on finding permanent housing through the City Walk program. Miller says, "The worst place you can have someone who is 'dangerous' is in destitute. The best place is in a monitored setting," which is what Miller says she is able to provide them.
Miller was told by the board that a follow-up inspection would need to be completed by Code Enforcement to see if the home was in compliance by Wednesday, July 29. In order for the Wakulla house to be found compliant, there could be no more than two unrelated residents living in the home, and several items including cars, a dumpster and a camper needed to be removed from the property.
Louis Serna, the Planning and Community Development Director for Wakulla County says the property was visited on Monday, July 27 and was found to be compliant with all codes. A $150 administrative fee required by the board was also paid before the Wednesday deadline.
Renee Miller says she is planning on appealing the board's decision. She wants to be able to house up to four residents and says she should be able to do that as a "Family Care Facility." Miller also claims that the county is selectively enforcing violations she does not agree they committed. The only violation Miller admits to is using the camper to keep an elderly couple from being homeless during the 2014/2015 winter.
Once Miller's appeal is submitted, the next stop for this dispute could be the Wakulla County Circuit Court.