Florida officials back off threat of massive fines for restaurant over hidden regulation

After almost two years of battling local regulators, a small Hobe Sound, Fla. business is finally in the clear.

Martin County officials have decided they will not levy $1,000 daily fines against the Flash Beach Grille restaurant for violating a decades' old, unrecorded environmental property restriction.

Never mind the local government's beef stemmed from its own mistake, or that enforcing the fines was probably against state law. Robert and Anita Breinig, the restaurant's owners, can now move forward with their business, and their lives.

That's no small thing for a couple with 17 years of sweat in the food service industry who risked everything to buy their restaurant building.

"Last year, Martin County threatened to ruin our dream of owning and running a restaurant on our own piece of property," Robert Breinig said after county officials finally backed off this week.

"Five hundred dollars a day would put me out of business in a week," Breinig told Watchdog in September while explaining Hobe Sound's seasonal economy.

In 1990, local officials placed a 40-by-70-foot conservation easement on the lot. But the county failed to record it and decided to hold the Breinig's accountable when a code inspector stumbled onto the restriction during a routine inspection for a liquor license.

"I was flabbergasted," Breinig said.

Click for more from Watchdog.org.