Mysterious land trust behind Holiday backyard property dispute once bought a private, dead-end road

Better Call Behnken

Residents say they were told access to homes would be cut off, so they bought the road themselves

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – As residents along Bigelow Street in Holiday are trying to figure out a way out of an unusual property dispute, another set of residents on Plaza View Dr. in Zephyrhills are remembering their similar ordeal.

The same mysterious land trust involved in the Holiday dispute bought a private road at the same time in 2008. That situation was resolved seven months later, but homeowner Tina Smith said dealing with the land trust representative was not a fun experience.

“He said, ‘We can put anything on there,” Smith said. ‘”We can put a drag strip on there. We can do anything we want to that property. It’s not your property.”

The mysterious trust, known only as (818) 239-2215 Land Trust, bought the 600-foot-long, dead-end road, and it wanted to sell it to residents, Smith said.

Plaza View Drive is used only by the people who live there, to travel to and from their homes. Smith vividly remembers the day 12 years ago, when a man from the mysterious land trust informed her it had bought the private road in a delinquent tax deed auction, after a private property owner passed away taxes were unpaid.

She recalls he discussed putting a store on the property, in between the homes on the street and told her residents would have to find a new route to their homes.

“He said, ‘People can drive through your yard,” Smith recalls.

Homeowners on Plaza View Drive put their money together and bought the road for $4,000. They paid to pave the road again, and they pay the taxes every year.

When they saw our Better Call Behnken report about the same land trust buying a 20-foot-wide parcel behind nine homes in Holiday, it brought back memories. In that case, homeowners used the land as part of their fenced-in back yards and some had no idea they didn’t own the land.

In one case, a homeowner was told he’d have to tear down his above-ground pool or buy the property behind his house. Another resident received a trespass warning. Another is listing her house for sale and was shocked to learn she can’t include part of her backyard.

Over on Plaza View Dr., Smith is rooting for the homeowners and hoping they can reach a deal with the land trust.

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