Pinellas County

New Dunedin ordinance may get nuisance property cleaned up

14-year battle may come to an end

Dunedin, FLA - Dunedin residents fed up with a neighbor's collection of junk  may finally be getting some relief.

A new law allowing the city to clean it up, with the bill added to the violator's tax bill, may be put in play.

It's called the "chronic nuisance ordinance."  It's been tweaked to give the city a hammer to go after homeowners who thumb their noses at liens and fines.

The problem property is on Pasadena and Buena Vista Drive, north of downtown Dunedin.

In David Ritter's front yard, you'll see 7 or 8 vehicles, all kinds of junk, and stuff stored everywhere.

“I want to light a fire and I'm not gonna let it go” said Gary Springer, who lives a few houses down from Ritter.

Last month, 8 On Your Side started investigating this situation, when Springer brought it to our attention.

At Thursday night's Dunedin City Commission meeting, he and other neighbors pleaded for action. “It's just a way too long.  It's a chronic nuisance.  And it needs to be fixed” said Springer.

Accused junk collector, David Ritter shooed us off his property, but last month, he claimed he's being harassed. “Everything here is legal.  And if the city harasses me any more, I am going to put 500 lawn chairs in the front yard” said Ritter.

It's been a 14-year battle between Ritter and the city. More than a half million in liens, plus fines, haven't done the trick.

“What I really would like is voluntary compliance.  Ya know, for the neighborhood, it's good for the neighborhood.  It's good for the property owner.  It shortens the timeline exponentially” said Dunedin City Manager Jennifer Bramely.

If that doesn't work, they city can declare Ritter’s property a nuisance, clean it up and add the cost to his tax bill.

“It will be cleaned up some time next year” declared Bramely.

Homeowner Gary Springer has little confidence that will happen. But, unlike liens and fines,  Ritter cannot ignore his tax bill, so that might force his hand.



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