SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — A dumpster dispute is causing a rift between a Sanibel business owner and the city council.
This rift is going far beyond just the smell.
“What you’re looking at is the world’s most expensive dumpster. $165,000 in fines to date with no end in sight.”
Brian Silveira is the managing partner at the Sandbar restaurant. For the last three years, he says he’s been at odds with city hall over his dumpster.
“Now, with our neighbors doing a huge landscaping project three years ago, the dumpster was moved here," said Silveira. "The dumpster has never been permitted anywhere on this property since 1952 when, I’m sure, they were using and not four yard dumpsters. So here we are. We moved the dumpster and the city doesn’t like where it is.”
Since then, Silveira and the city have been through a court hearing on top of numerous meetings. They’re currently involved in litigation with the city and a multi-million dollar lawsuit with their neighbors. He says he’s being fined $250 each day the dumpster sits in its current spot.
Originally, the dumpster sat in this space in the back of the restaurant. But some large boulders, put in place by his neighbors, are hugging the property line preventing a dump truck from getting through. So, the city have told Silveira to move the dumpster... only that designated spot can hurt his business.
“If we lose two of our 28 parking spaces, we are going to be in a lot of trouble during the busiest time of year," said Silveira. "We basically told the city you can’t put our dumpster there because you’re going to harm us as a restaurant. You’re going to end up putting 20 people, including myself, out of business because we won’t be able to produce the revenue required to make money.”
He’s even filed a permit to have his dumpster’s location approved. But, according to him, the city won’t approve.
“We didn’t pull the permit for that area over there, the city pulled their own permit and basically said here you go!" Silveira said. "Put the dumpster over there or you’ll face $250 a day fines.”
Silveira says the restaurant will be closing for the season soon, but that won’t stop the fines from coming in. In the meantime, he says they’ll wait for the magistrate to make the decision if they owe $165,000 or not.
“In the end, if we have people at city hall who are willing to communicate and negotiate, this can all be put behind us and we can go back to being a successful restaurant.”