Cocoa Expo Shut Down, Forged Fire Inspection Document
By Space Coast Daily // March 6, 2015
“Mr. Unnerstall, You Have Created A Nightmare With This Board and This Staff.”
– Brevard County Commission Chairman Robin Fisher
Injunction Filed Against Cocoa Expo Owner Jeff Unnerstall
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – The Brevard County Commission approved filing an injunction during a zoning meeting Thursday night against Jeff Unnerstall, owner and developer of the Cocoa Expo, after Unnerstall defied the county’s denial of a special events permit filed on March 3.
Despite not having the required inspections and certificates of occupancy, Unnerstall allowed a double-header baseball game to be played in the Cocoa Expo’s main stadium on Thursday.
According to Jesse Hoover of the Cocoa Expo, the games were played by the University of Missouri at St. Louis and University of Findlay out of Ohio.
“I feel for the kids and parents who came all the way down here and got caught up in this mess with Cocoa Expo,” said Brevard County Commission Chairman Robin Fisher.
“The developer continues to defy and buck the system. We have gone out of the way to accommodate the developer (Unnerstall). We have made more exceptions for this developer than any other. He does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.”
When Brevard County building and Fire Rescue officials arrived Thursday at the Cocoa Expo, they were denied access to the facility by Cocoa Expo staff.
“The entire complex, including the main stadium, is an active construction site and should not have been used,” said Mike McCaughin of the Brevard County building department.
During Thursday night’s county zoning meeting, Brevard County Manager Stockton Whiten expressed concern that Unnerstall’s repeated actions puts the county at risk liability-wise.
According to Assistant County Attorney Morris Richardson, if Unnerstall ignores the injunction, he could face criminal charges.
Thursday’s occurrence at the Cocoa Expo was just another incident in a 3-year long battle with the county’s fire department and building inspectors, despite the county’s willingness to support the project.
In August 2012, the Brevard County Commission approved a series of zoning changes 4-1 as requested by Unnerstall, who is from Kissimmee, to help speed construction of the project located on approximately 48 acres at 500 Friday Road.
Since construction began in 2011, Unnerstall’s practices were also brought under scrutiny by St. Johns River Water Management.
“The District’s investigation began soon after we received an application for the Cocoa Expo west parking lot,” said Hank Largin, St. Johns River Water Management District public communications coordinator.
“Staff conducted a site inspection and found that construction had begun on the west parking lot without a District permit having been issued. Some wetlands had been filled.”
More recently, the county has discovered that someone in the Cocoa Expo organization forged county documents.
“Somebody in their organization recently forged a signature on a fire inspection document,” said Commissioner Fisher.
Despite the well documented special treatment and concessions made to Unnerstall, his on-site staff have been very vocal in criticizing and blaming the county, claiming that county staff and procedures have hindered his efforts to complete and open the Cocoa Expo.
Unnerstall did not return Space Coast Daily’s calls for a response.
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ABOVE MAP: The Cocoa Expo project is located on approximately 48 acres at 500 Friday Road in Cocoa.