Cape Coral considers suing chapel over fire code violation

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- The City of Cape Coral plans to sue a chapel over a fire code violation.

The city says Haven of Divine Love near the corner of Veterans Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard refuses to cooperate and they’ve been left with no choice.

Friday, the chapel had a banner up reading “God’s house has been condemned by the City of Cape Coral.”

The city has already shut the water and electricity off to the building, trying to send a message.

On Monday, the city attorney will be asking the City Council to file a lawsuit.

“The first time I heard the city was gonna file a lawsuit was today by you. I wonder what the heck they’re doing,” said Minister Anthony Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says the city is overstepping its boundaries by threatening a lawsuit over a fire code violation.

“They’re interfering with a house of God.”

“For us it’s extremely disappointing that we even have to get to this step. It really is because to me, it’s just about doing the right thing,” said Connie Barron with the City of Cape Coral.

The problems began with a run down staircase in the back of the chapel that is completely missing the last few steps. While there’s a second staircase inside, code says every building must have two ways out.

Rodriguez says they were in the process of fixing the staircase when the city stepped in.

“They said stop it, they wanted some type of engineer to raise some kind of plan. It was an easy fix for the stairs.”

The city says because the building is a mixed-use facility, a licensed contractor has to make the repairs, not the owner.

“Now it would probably be more than $5,000,” said Rodriguez. “What mission has $5,000? This is a nonprofit organization, don’t have any money.”

“They still haven’t done anything and they’re still not moving forward with it. So to us, it’s become clear that they don’t really have any intention to ensure the safety and health and welfare of the people there,” said Barron.

The city says the goal of the lawsuit is to have a judge force Haven of Divine Love to fix the stairs or shut down the building.

Rodriguez says the handful of people who lived upstairs have already vacated, but the city says the building needs to be completely boarded up.

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