Target 8: Junk pile in neighborhood grows, Hillsborough man asks ‘where is the county?’

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – To Bob Mullins of Citrus Park, it’s like deja vu.

A neighbor who bought a house across the street from him is accumulating piles of junk.  Porches are packed.  Clutter is spilling onto the driveway.

“Nothing has improved,” he said.

Mullins expected issues when Brenda Owings bought the property on Amherst Street.

For years, he complained about another one of her properties, right around the corner on Berkford Avenue.

When he made Target 8 aware of it, in July of 2014, it was jammed from one corner to the other with rotting, rusting, rancid, rubbish.

Somehow Owings shoe horned a school bus onto the property.

For 18 years, Hillsborough County wrestled with this refuse problem.

At $50 dollars a day since 1997, Owings ran up $548,000 dollars in code enforcement fines.

There was minimal effort on her part to clean it up, but many excuses.

“I have neighbors that are harassing me and they’re acting like it’s their property.  These people over here are about like trailer trash,” Owings told us in 2014.

After three months of ongoing Target 8 reports, Hillsborough changed an ordinance allowing it to move heavy equipment onto Owings’ homesteaded property and clean it up, if she wouldn’t.

A contractor cleared the Berkford Avenue property in September 2014.  Cars were towed, structures were ripped down and hundreds of tons of trash was hauled away.

Owings was so startled the county actually moved on its threat to tackle the problem, she called 911 to report her things were being stolen.

The clean up cost taxpayers more than $60,000.

In February 2016, the county sent Owings a letter demanding she reimburse it for the clean up or it would start foreclosure proceedings.  The foreclosure is mired in court.

Now, the Berkford property is up for sale.

We went to another property owned by Owings to ask her what was going on at Amherst Street.  There was a pickup truck full of items, but no one answered.

Mullins is left wondering if that stuff is headed his way.  He also wonders how long how long the county will allow this new code enforcement struggle to drag on.

“She just thumbs her nose at them,” he said.

Per the County Attorney’s Office, a Motion for Summary Judgment in the foreclosure case involving 14508 Berkford Avenue has been scheduled for hearing on April 5. The case is an attempt to recover the $60,506.57 abatement lien.

Additionally, the fine on the Berkford property was reduced by ordinance to $86,511, as the fine amount cannot exceed 50% of the market value as listed with the property appraiser; the reduced amount represents that figure.

If you have something that you think should be investigated contact our target 8 Helpline at 1 800-338-0808.

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