The city of Marathon brokered a deal with the residents of Knight’s Key Village to allow a restaurant to be built in their residential neighborhood. As part of the agreement, both sides agreed there would be no amplified music allowed.
But the restaurant at Mile Marker 47 was sold and became the popular Sunset Grille and Raw Bar.
The new owner, John Kotch, violated the land-use agreement, and has attempted to expand the operation into a Holiday Isle-type entity, with amplified music and much more.
The neighbors have been locked in a battle with the restaurant and the city to make Kotch comply with the agreement they brokered.
The neighborhood successfully fought this measure and won partly because Councilman John Bartus, who had a conflict of interest, recused himself.
That is because Bartus worked for Sunset Grille and Raw Bar playing music, and he sold magazine advertisements to them.
Since Kotch lost the measure before the City Council, he terminated Bartus, as well as other musicians.
Councilman Bartus and his friends suffered the loss of revenue they were receiving because Kotch violated the land use agreement.
Now Bartus is claiming he no longer works for Kotch, and therefore, he no longer has a conflict of interest and wants to vote on the matter that was already voted on and failed to pass.
The mayor and other council members went against the advice of the city attorney and city manager and voted to revisit the matter at their next city council meeting, and allow Bartus to vote on the measure.
These sorts of tactics undermine public trust in government and will lead to massive lawsuits against the city and complaints to the state Commission on Ethics.