Davie community tries to force police officer

to park marked car in garage


Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Joe Kollin
Published May 27, 2005


Does the patrol car parked in the driveway of the police officer's house make neighbors feel more secure?

Or does it lower the neighborhood's property values by making it appear the area is riddled with crime?

The question of whether to let an officer park his patrol car in his driveway or make him put it in his three-car garage, or cover it with a tarp, is splitting residents in Carlton Ranches, a gated, 46-home community in Davie.

The officer, Kevin Millan, an 11-year veteran of the Miami Beach Police Department, wants to leave the car in his driveway or hidden behind bushes or a fence so he can get to it quickly. As a traffic homicide investigator, he is always on call.

But the Carlton Ranches Homeowners Association board wants the car out of sight.

An association that requires a police car to be covered is like those that don't let owners fly American flags in their front yards, said Millan's attorney, F. Blane Carneal of Fort Lauderdale.

Board members say hiding the car should not slow Millan down.

"The time frame to open the garage and back it out, or to remove a cover, is immaterial in comparison to the time it will take him to reach Miami Beach," said Randall K. Roger of Boca Raton, the association's attorney.

The association may be forced to ask a judge to decide whether its rules against parking commercial vehicles in the community give it the right to ban police cars. To finance a lawsuit, the association has ordered all owners, including Millan, to pay a $350 special assessment.

The Florida Fraternal Order of Police is waiting to see what happens, said the state president, Sgt. James Mann of the Miami Police Department.

"If this homeowners association prevails, it could impact officers throughout the state, and even the nation," he said.

Millan, 34, and his wife, Regina, 28, a former Miami-Dade assistant state attorney who practices criminal immigration law, bought the house last year. In December, she gave birth to their son, Vincenzo.

The Millans said they knew when they bought that the association prohibits commercial vehicles. But the bylaws define a commercial vehicle as one that advertises a business and a police car doesn't do that, said Regina Millan.

Roger, however, argued that the community is in Davie and he interprets the town code as classifying police cars as commercial vehicles.

But Carneal said state law doesn't consider a police car to be a commercial vehicle and state law trumps the town code.

Should the association sue, it could be precedent-setting because no court has issued a ruling in this type of case, Carneal said.

"But our intention is not to bring a lawsuit, we want the association to make the first move and hopefully, it will do nothing and let everyone live in peace," he said.

Roger said the association may have no choice. "We respect what police do in general. We're just not willing to give them a special exception that's not available to other members of the community," he said.

The Millans' next-door neighbor said his family likes seeing the car parked outside.

"I have no problem with the car. I have no problem with them putting it behind a fence, which they offered to do [but the board rejected]," said Giovanni Hernandez. "We have three girls and they feel safer with the car out there."

Cathy Bucci, a neighbor who sells real estate, said no client has ever complained during her 30 years of selling in Broward County. "I don't think it negatively affects property values whatsoever."