FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Berry Cardott told Local 10's Leave it to Layron team that he bought his home on Southwest 11th Street in Fort Lauderdale more than 40 years ago.
About a decade later, he ripped out all of the sod from the front lawn and replaced it with rocks. Nearly 30 years later, that decision has him stuck between all those tiny rocks and a hard place.
In May, a code enforcement officer with the city of Fort Lauderdale posted a notice on Cardott's door, warning him that he was in violation of a city ordinance.
According to the ordinance, "decorative stone, or gravel may be utilized up to a maximum of 10 percent of the total landscape area."
The notice gave Cardott 30 days to remove the rocks and replace them with "living ground cover" or grass.
Cardott said no one ever contacted him about his rocky landscape before.
"Nobody ever complained," he said.
Before pebble No.1 even hit the ground, Cardott said he went to City Hall.
"I asked three people that were inspectors if it was OK, and do I need a permit to put the rocks down, and they said, 'No,'" Cardott said. "[The] next time I ever ask anything, I'm going to say, 'Put it in writing.'"
A city spokesperson told the LITL team the rule was adopted in 1997. Before then, using stone and rocks in landscape was prohibited.
We asked the city spokesperson if this was a lack of enforcement that spanned 30 years. We're still waiting for an answer.
The LITL team also learned Cardott's rocks aren't the only ones that have been tagged by the city's code enforcement officers.
Seven other addresses have been cited for violating the same ordinance within the past year. At some of those addresses, it appeared the violations had been corrected. Gravel had been replaced with grass or living ground cover. At others, the hardscapes remained.
The LITL team spotted other properties in Cardott's neighborhood with front yards full of rocks, but those addresses were not on the list the city spokesperson provided.
"I don't think they're being fair at all," Cardott said.
At 69, Cardott said he's only getting older, he's not in the best of health and mowing a lawn is the last thing he wants to do.
He said he plans to plead his case before a special magistrate, or code compliance board to see if he can keep his rocks.
In a statement, the city spokesman said the "primary goal is working with our neighbors to achieve and maintain voluntary compliance. To that end, we will continue to communicate with the property owner in a good faith effort to help bring the property into compliance. While we are working to achieve a solution, no fines will be assessed."
If you have a problem, send an email to the Leave it to Layron team at Layron@Local10.com.