County to consider mediation on Barton oceanfront property lien

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Indian River County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to consider reaching a settlement with City First Mortgage for a $253,000 lien for code violations on an oceanfront property that dates back to 1998.

The property located at 2025 Surfside Terrace once belonged to maverick homeowner Lewis Barton, who eventually lost the property through a foreclosure sale to City First Mortgage in 2009.


The county and mortgage lender had been in negotiations to settle the code violation lien for a reported figure of $90,000, but City First changed strategy and sued the county to have its 2003 mortgage declared superior to the county’s 1998 lien.

First City Mortgage lost that suit and is appealing to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. Earlier this month, County Attorney Alan Polackwich contacted City First and asked if it was interested in settling the matter through mediation to which the company said yes.

Polackwich asked the county commissioners to meet in a “shaded” session to approve going forward with mediation and to provide him the parameters they wanted to see in a settlement.

A “shaded” session begins in open session and then members adjourn to discuss strategy behind closed doors. A court reporter records the discussion and it is made public once the matter has been settled.

“I just want to make sure the public knows that there will be full disclosure,” said Commissioner Peter O’Bryan.

Polakwich also noted the though there is still time, the clock is ticking on the county lien, which has a 20-year lifespan and will expire in 2018.

The battle over the property started in the 1990s, when fines began accruing at a rate of $100 a day for a concrete sea wall Barton attempted to build.

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