Citrus Park property prompts code enforcement change

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – There was action today by Hillsborough county commissioners following an 8 On Your Side investigation.

Commissioners voted unanimously to draw up an ordinance that will bring chronic code offenders before a judge in county court.

For months now 8 On Your Side has documented the county’s inability to deal with properties that are overgrown and piled with junk and pose possible health risks to neighbors.

Commissioners decided it was time to play hard ball with owners of properties like 14508 Berkford Avenue in Citrus Park.

The stench generated by the disgusting dump, jam packed with junk from one end of the property to the other, has angered and sickened neighbors.

Bob Mullins is tired of it. He took his message to clean up 14508 Berkford avenue to the Hillsborough county commission.

“The property has been identified recently as a nuisance and health safety hazard by Commissioner Crist and by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser,” Mullins told commissioners. “There is an accumulation of trash, junk and moldy conditions with debris covering over 10,000 square feet.”

Neighbors also claimed the property was a breeding ground for rats, raccoons and mosquitoes.

“I enlisted the help of Steve Andrews of Channel 8 On Your Side to help bring the conditions to the public’s attention,” Mullins told commissioners.

Commissioner Victor Crist assured Mullins the property would be taken care of.

“There is much being done behind the scenes and we hope that this will be resolved very soon. We are aware that this is a miserable situation,” Crist said.

The WFLA investigation found for 17 years, property owner Brenda Owings has ignored code enforcement violations. Fines now amount to about $320,000.

The county claims Florida’s Homestead law prevents it from stepping foot on an owner occupied piece of property.

This isn’t a new problem.

In March, 8 On Your Side brought to the county’s attention another problem property on Main street in Valrico. The owners there, ignored code enforcement for 11 years. Their fines now exceed $1 million dollars.

“My goal is not to collect anyone’s money and certainly not to take anyone’s property. It’s to solve the problem,” commissioner Mark Sharpe said.

Owings has not returned 8 On Your Side’s most recent calls. In July she said she plans to renovate 14508 Berkford Avenue and move back in.

The county will hold a public hearing on September 17th to discuss the proposed new ordinance.

It can’t happen quick enough for Bob Mullins and the neighbors who live near Owings’ Berkford avenue property.

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