Commissioners want action on Valrico property mess - WFLA News Channel 8

Commissioners want action on Valrico property mess

Posted: Updated:
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A decade of code violations and nearly one million dollars in code violation fines on a Valrico property went unnoticed at the highest levels of Hillsborough County, until a couple of phone calls and one story by 8 On Your Side earlier this week revealed the mess at 1602 Main Street.

Now commissioners want answers and action.

"I was certainly not aware that we had a case that was this extreme," Commissioner Al Higginbotham said.

The Valrico property has piled up fines for code violations since 2003.

Hillsborough County cited the owners Glenda and Richard Smith repeatedly for accumulation of junk, trash and debris. And for overgrown conditions, placing temporary storage units on the property as well as living in an RV.

"They just keep building the mess up all the time," neighbor Ed Tewmey complained.

Tewmey first reported problems to code enforcement about the Smith's property in 2004.

Code violation fines exceed $981,000. The total grows by $350 a day.

"The fine is just to motivate the property owner to come into compliance with local ordinances," code enforcement manager Jim Blinck said.

That obviously isn't working.

Since 1602 Main Street is the Smith's primary residence, the Florida Homestead law prevents the county from foreclosing on the property, even stepping foot onto it to clean it up.

8 On Your Side's report on this mess was a topic of conversation at Wednesday's county commission meeting.

"Steve Andrews recently uncovered a huge violation, code enforcement violation," Commissioner Victor Crist told fellow commissioners.

Crist wants the county attorney and code enforcement to dig deeper to find a legal remedy to take care of this problem.

"That site needs to be cleaned up. It needs to be cleaned up immediately and it needs to be cleaned up if the county's got to go in and do it for them and send them a bill," Crist said.

The Smith's property sits in Commissioner Al Higginbotham's district.

"When you called our office we took steps right away and we're going to find a way to help this family and this whole neighborhood," he said.

Higginbotham hopes to coordinate volunteers with community service groups to clean the property.

He says, clearly the owners of this lot are in trouble and need help.

"Our office is right now putting together the appropriate people, members of the community. Sometimes that's what this takes, is people recognizing that they have a neighbor who is in trouble," Higginbotham said.

Before anyone gets too excited, Higginbotham warns, volunteers can only go in and help if the property owners allow them to and that is still in question.

Neither Crist nor Higginbotham could answer why a it took a television story to bring this to Commissioners' attention, despite more than a decade of violations and almost one million dollars in fines.

Copyright WFLA 2014. All rights reserved.

  • Don't Miss ItMore>>

  • Baby cakes: 'Smash' trend taking 1-year-old parties by storm

    Baby cakes: 'Smash' trend taking 1-year-old parties by storm

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:23 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:23:30 GMT
    Legions of parents have embraced the smash cake, a birthday party feature in which brand-new 1-year-olds are served cakes to destroy — adorably — in front of friends and family.
    Legions of parents have embraced the smash cake, a birthday party feature in which brand-new 1-year-olds are served cakes to destroy — adorably — in front of friends and family.
  • RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at Trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:45 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:45:14 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • 4 - 5,000 attend Snooty's 66th birthday bash

    4 - 5,000 attend Snooty's 66th birthday bash

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:03:55 GMT
    Snooty’s 66th birthday “cake”  was made from cabbage, strawberries, pineapple, sweet potatoes and beets. South Florida Museum photoSnooty’s 66th birthday “cake” was made from cabbage, strawberries, pineapple, sweet potatoes and beets. South Florida Museum photo
    Imagine 4,000 people coming to your birthday party. That's about how many people showed up to celebrate the 66th birthday of Tampa Bay's beloved Snooty the manatee. 
    Imagine 4,000 people coming to your birthday party. That's about how many people showed up to celebrate the 66th birthday of Tampa Bay's beloved Snooty the manatee. 
  • Most Viewed Stories on WFLA.com

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.