St. Petersburg man stuck without driveway and in middle of government red tape

Better Call Behnken

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.(WFLA) — Tony Petersworth turned to Better Call Behnken fed up and with no access to his driveway.

That’s because even though the city of St. Petersburg approved Petersworth’s permit for a new extended driveway, a city inspector put the brakes on the whole project – after it was already torn up and under construction.

“I’ve had to get stepping stones to get to the front door, stepping stones to get to the garbage and the recycling bins,” Petersworth said.

The problem arose because there is a water meter in the middle of the driveway, and the city decided it needed to be moved. But this decision was made after the permit was approved and the project was underway.

The water meter has been there since the home was built in the 70s, just like many others in the neighborhood. Petersworth said he would have been OK with moving it but no one told him it needed to be done.

“I would have moved it before tearing up the driveway,” he said.

“The meter has been there 48 years,” he continued. “Their excuse was in case there’s a leak, we’re going to have to bust up your concrete, and it’s going to cost us so much money to repair the concrete. But even if I didn’t put a new driveway in, the meter’s still in the middle of my driveway, and it could still leak, and they’d still have to bust up the old concrete and replace it with new concrete.”

Petersworth said he was told it could take up to 12 weeks before city workers could move the water meter and he could continue with his project – and it would cost him $600.

He turned to Better Call Behnken. A spokesman said that upon further review, the city had a change of heart. He sent this statement:

“In general, the department strongly discourages having water taps and meters in driveways because when they leak the whole driveway needs to be replaced. This has caused many problems in the past and is a practice the water department is trying to eliminate.

However, at this time I am not aware of a code requirement and so we will be contacting the permitting department to allow this work to continue as permitted. We will be working on code amendments to address this in the future.”

But then things changed again.

Petersworth said the city contacted him with a choice: he could continue with construction as planned or allow the city to move the water meter – next week, not in up to 12 weeks. He decided to take them up on the offer.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I feel like the sun is shining again.”

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