Plantation to pay $15,000 to Hyatt family in Christmas light fight

City memo says couple's code enforcement fines also reduced to $1,400

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Shyann Malone - Anchor/Reporter

PLANTATION, Fla. - The city of Plantation will pay $15,000 in litigation fees to a city councilman and his wife after its failed fight to stop the family's extravagant holiday display.

A memorandum from city attorney Donald J. Lunny Jr. to the mayor and city councilmembers details the amount of money it will cost Plantation for unsuccessfully challenging Mark and Kathy Hyatt in court.

According to the memo, obtained Friday by Local 10 News, the city will pay $15,000 to the couple by the end of the month.

The city also intends to lower the Hyatts' code enforcement fines from $7,000 to $1,400. That leaves the Hyatts on the hook for $2,075.

Horace A. McHugh, Plantation's chief administrative officer, said the legal battle has cost the city more than $434,000.

"It's unacceptable," Mark Hyatt said. "That money could have been utilized in so many different ways in our city."

Mark Hyatt isn't the only one who is unhappy with the amount of money the city has spent in the battle over his Christmas light display.

"I did not like the city to spend that much money, that's for sure," resident Pat Livingston said.

A Broward County judge ruled in October that the Hyatts had not caused a public nuisance by putting on an annual outdoor Christmas light spectacle at their home, attracting large crowds that the city argued created noise, traffic and trash.

"I don't think it should have ended up in court," resident Chandra May said. "It doesn't make any sense."

Mark Hyatt was elected to the City Council in November, telling Local 10 that he hoped to "bury the hatchet" with the city.

However, several people complained to Local 10 that they were ticketed by police for parking on the road during last year's display, which some neighbors believed was retaliation by the city for losing the lawsuit.

According to the memo, if the Hyatts wish to reduce the $2,075 that they owe, they can do so in front of a special magistrate before the end of the month.

City officials wouldn't comment on the litigation fees, citing the pending lien.

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