Log yard openly defies court
By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
HERNANDO -- After sitting idle for nearly a year, Scott Adams' logging and wood-mulching business reopened Monday in defiance of a standing court order.
A temporary injunction granted in February 2000 shut down the business until the courts could determine whether Adams needed development permits for the site, as Citrus County officials contend.
Temporarily closing the business has cost Adams more than $1-million in revenues and payments on heavy machinery that is going unused, he said. Adams said he is using profits from some of his other businesses to help cover the debts from this venture.
Although a trial for the county's lawsuit against Adams and his business partner, Charlie Strange, is scheduled for Feb. 21, Adams said he could not let his business continue to lose money.
"I'm starving. I'm going bankrupt," Adams said.
"I cannot find no justice in the court system," he continued. "I have only one choice: to feed my family. I'm not putting them in a tent, either. They're going to stay in the house where they are now."
Assistant County Attorney Carl Kern said the county would probably file a motion asking Circuit Judge Richard Tombrink to cite Adams for contempt of court.
If Adams is cited, he could face a fine or jail time. The judge would determine any penalty.
"It is very serious to violate the judicial injunction," Kern said. "You're basically telling the courts they don't have any power, and that is not a wise thing to do."
The county sued Adams and Strange almost a year ago because the two refused to get development permits for the logging and mulching business on County Road 486. Lumber gathered on-site, as well as wood and debris from other land-clearing projects, is processed and sold as logs or mulch.
The county calls it a wood recycling business, and says it needs a development permit. But because wood is grown and harvested on-site, Adams says the log yard meets the legal definition of a farm, and is, therefore, exempt from local permitting requirements.
Several months after a judge issued the order to temporarily close the business, Adams filed a countersuit against the county, seeking unspecified damages from lost revenue and other costs.
Upon opening Monday, Adams estimated he earned about $500 from selling logs and mulch from the site.
Adams has always fought his county battles publicly, using billboards, paid newspaper advertisements and even a failed campaign for County Commission to rail against county officials.
This time was no different: When Adams decided to reopen his logging and mulching business, he left phone messages with Kern and Development Services Director Gary Maidhof, announcing his intention to violate the court order.
He also bought an advertisement scheduled to be published in the Citrus Times on Wednesday stating the log yard has reopened.
"I called to tell (Kern and Maidhof) I understand what they've got to do," Adams said. "But basically, they're wrong, and I've got to do what I've got to do."
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