BRADENTON -- A Bradenton family that attracted attention from around the globe for their fight with city hall over code enforcement violations at their "flag house" can rest easy -- the city has closed the case.
For weeks, volunteers have been working with Brent and Catherine Greer to get their house ready for re-inspection.
On Tuesday, city Code Compliance Manager Volker Reiss said the home passed inspection and the "case is closed."
The Guardian Angels of Southwest Florida, the group that licensed the Greers to be foster parents, rallied to the aid of the family when the city first filed the violations. Floyd and Bobbie Price put out a call for help and Britt Williams, of Bruce Williams Homes, answered as he helped organize trade workers to address the city's concerns.
"From our standpoint, it's just a joy that this family is being relieved from this burden," Floyd Price said Tuesday. "We are just glad to offer a little help to people who have given a tremendous amount to helping children."
The Greers contend their saga highlights problems with the city's code enforcement process.
"The message here is that the community itself is good," said Catherine Greer. "Everyone seemed to come together to support protecting personal rights. Once we got into this, we began to see that there are a lot of people who have had negative experiences with code enforcement, so we hope the city will look at how they interact with people in a kinder way."
The battle began in February over a fallen Christmas tree, an anony
mous complaint and an eventual visit from a code enforcement officer who the Greers say crossed a line of professional behavior by making inappropriate comments about the couple's seven adopted children. The first visit led to multiple violations being filed against the family, with the threat of a $250-per-day fine.
Brent Greer responded by painting the front of his Riverview Boulevard home like an American flag to send a message to the city, "This is still America."
Greer called the treatment of his family a violation of their personal rights and vowed to fight city hall.
He technically lost that battle June 18 when the code enforcement board found him guilty of the violations, but gave him 90 additional days to correct the violations.
At the hearing, code enforcement officer Mark Runnals presented testimony and evidence that included photographs that even he admitted were "hard to see," and used words like "maybe" some wood was rotting in photographs that were taken from a distance.
The Greers said there was an unacceptable lack of communication from city officials, noting that they often learned what the city was doing next through the media.
Catherine Greer said she never knew what her rights were during the process and didn't even know Reiss's name until he was quoted in a Bradenton Herald article.
As of Tuesday morning, the Greers had not been notified by the city that the case was closed.
Reiss said he still stands behind Runnal's handling of the case against the Greers. When asked if the city had learned anything from the negative reactions from the public, Reiss said, "That would only be a pertinent question if the interaction had been inappropriate."
Catherine Greer said the family was put through a lot, but it was all worth it.
"The support is still wonderful," said Greer. "People still drive by and honk and wave at the kids when they are in the yard. I feel like this has brought the community together just over a house with an American flag painted on it. The kids have loved the attention and it has brought us closer together as a family."
Greer said she hopes to give back to others.
"I drive around the city and see houses that you can tell need work," she said. "These people probably need every bit of the help we received but don't have the support. At some point, I want to go to these homes and help. We do landscaping, so I should be able to at least help do their yards."
Those who helped the Greers include Tropical Painting, Metro Electric, Roofing by Curry, Mullet's Aluminum Products, Womble Glass & Mirror, Kyle Kleppinger Construction, Pro Build Company and Bruce Williams Homes.
They donated most of their time and expertise to repair the home, Price said, but there were some minor material costs of about $3,000.
"Guardian Angels is taking care of that," Price said. "The family won't be billed a single cent."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.