HECK NO! WE WON'T GO!
January 29, 2015
Cape Coral January 29,
2015. In a
defiant move today, a local Religious Community notified the
City of Cape Coral
Florida that they will refuse to vacate their home and Chapel located at 2307 SE 15th Place, in the City of Cape Coral Florida.
On Monday, January 26, 2015, Officials of Cape Coral and LCEC,
the local electric company, had the
power shut off at the resident building
claiming that the building was unsafe, and ordered the residents
not to enter.
The order to turn off the electricity and ban the residents from entering the
building was made by Paul B. Dickson of the Cape Coral Building Department and
Dennie Hamilton the CEO of LCEC.
is our home, and they will have to drag me by my feet to make me leave,"
said Sarah Rodriquez, a Minister and Deaconess of The Haven of Divine
Love. "What they are doing is very
wrong, and we will fight to the end to stop their abuse and discrimination
against us," S. Rodriquez stated.
is nothing unsafe at all with our house, I can climb up and down the inside
stairs with no problem, and I will not allow anyone from the City to stop me
from doing so," says Anthony Rodriquez, the Chaplain and Deacon of The
Haven. "Even the outside stairs was structurally sound before they tried
to make it an issue," A. Rodriquez added.
to the web page, www.havenofdivinelove.net The Haven of Divine Love is a Non Profit Religious
Community that provides low cost housing for low income senior citizens and
parties with limited disabilities. It
was founded by Eleanor Nelsen, a prior Carmelite Nun in 1993, and operated by
her until her death in 2008. Since then
it has been operated by a small group of volunteers who vowed to continue
Nelsen's legacy of providing services to the poor and disadvantaged members of
the local community. According to the Florida Division of Corporations, The
Nelsen Residence Inc. operating as The Haven of Divine Love, is a Florida Non
Profit Corporation. Jerome F. Valenta is listed as the Registered Agent, President, and Director. Wilfred A. Rodriquez
and Sarah A. Rodriquez and are listed as Directors and the Deacon and Deaconess
it Civil Disobedience if you will," stated Jerome Valenta, the President
of The Haven. "We have drawn a line in the sand after suffering over 25
separate violations of our Civil and Religious Rights from actions by the City,
and we will not take it anymore," he said.
It is not a commercial property subject to their regulations. This is a single family residence, it has
always been a single family residence, and a change by the City zoning can not
make it anything else," Valenta said
to County records and zillow.com, the property is a residential 3 bedroom, 4
bath home with a private Chapel built in 1979.
"It was originally a convent, but now operated as a Religious
Community of both male and female members," Valenta stated. Valenta, a Director and Vice President since
2002, and the younger brother of Nelsen, took over the overseeing of the entity
in 2008 upon the tragic death of Nelsen.
The records also show that the residence has 2 separate stairways, one
inside and one outside. It is the
outside stairway that Officials from Cape Coral claim need to be repaired. "That's silly," says Valenta, "a
single family home only requires one stairway, we have the luxury of two, and
the interior stairs are adequately functional, and the majority of the repairs
they are now requiring for the outside stairs was caused by the City of Cape Coral in the first place," Valenta
claims. "We attempted to repair the
minor problems on the stairs in June 2014 when they ordered us to stop. Now, because of the weathering and the
environment exposure, the stairs have been damaged substantially," he
The recent problems
arose when Officials from Cape Coral raided the single family residence
of the clergy on December 12, 2014, claiming that the City had rezoned
the property to a Commercial zoning, making the residence a Commercial Property
and subject to their commercial conditions. Fire Department Acting Chief, John
Maher, Building Department, John McConnell, and 2 other unidentified officials
from the Code Enforcement entered the property and residence and cited the
organization for not having fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, file walls,
fire safety signs, and an unsafe stairway.
"That is ridiculous," says Valenta, "I wonder how they would feel if I
entered their private homes, without a search warrant, and cited them for
commercial requirements. That is a
serious violation of our privacy."
in May of 2014, a prior resident and guest of the facility contacted the City Code Enforcement to complain that the stairs were
unsafe. "He stated to various other
Residents that he 'was going to fall down the stairs and sue this place for
everything they got' and then tried to get the Code Enforcement to justify his
attempts to defraud," Valenta said. "At no time has the City Code
Enforcement ever communicated with any Officer, Director, or authorized
representative of The Haven. All
communication was with Mr. Anagnos and an agent of Code Enforcement. In fact, it was later learned that the Code
Enforcement Agent had no experience whatsoever of construction, and only stated
information supplied by Anagnos," Valenta added. "It was a clear cut case of an attempt
to defraud which in turn was conspired with the Code Enforcement Agent."
statement provided by Valenta, he states, "The vindictive shutting off of
the electricity by the City and LCEC denies us access to our first floor chapel
which has no connection to a stairway issue, and effectively denies us our
religious practices. This is not a issue
of the outside stairs being unsafe, it is a issue of extortion, blackmail,
attempts to defraud, bias, prejudice, discrimination, retaliation, conspiracy
to extort and defraud, an abuse of authority, and a colluded effort of the City
Departments to close us down. On top of
that, we have a Police Department who continuously fails and refuses to provide
our Officers, Directors, Clergy, and Residents
protection. They simply do not
want poor people in Cape Coral.
They have no Homeless Shelters, will not allow Missions, and have
absolutely no HUD low cost housing for the low income seniors, disability, or
veterans. We are the only facility in
the entire City of Cape Coral to provide low cost housing for the
low income seniors and persons with disabilities. Some State or Federal Agency need to
investigate the actions of this City.
They are the most Un-Christian and Inhumane City I have ever experienced."
happens now apparently is up to the City.
In a letter to Mr. Dickson, with copies sent to the City Council, Mayor,
City Manager, and City Attorney, Mr. Valenta states " You will have to
force them, or physically remove them.
In fact, we want you to physically remove them. We actually dare you to do so."
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I, Howard Cantrell, herein grant permission to reproduce or
publish all or parts of the above article, "Heck No! We won't Go!" as
long as it does not alter the content or statements.