POINCIANA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents living in an eastern Polk County neighborhood are frustrated as growing piles of garbage tarnish their fast-growing community.
Joshua Smith and his husband David moved to Poinciana one year ago for a quieter life.
“It was away from the hubbub in Orlando and we’re from New England and it kind of reminded us of home,” said Joshua Smith.
They were expecting a slower pace, not piles of garbage on their street corners.
“We’ve just noticed within the last year since we’ve moved here, just a uproar in the amount of trash being dumped in our communities. It’s getting worse and worse,” he said.
They contacted 8 On Your Side because they were sick of the illegal dumping and the inaction.
“Nothing has been done or communicated in terms of any solutions or resolutions,” said Smith.
Smith is under the impression people are dumping the garbage on property belonging to people who don’t live here, so they are not aware it is happening.
He says the homeowners association, the Association of Poinciana Villages, is not helping.
“We just want, as community members to just say, ‘Hey, this is happening. I don’t know if you know this is happening,’” said Smith.
A representative from the HOA, Trish Moore, sent a statement to 8 On Your Side.
“We are equally frustrated over the piles of trash that have been illegally dumped in our community. Trash removal is handled by the county, not the HOA,” she said. “As a homeowner’s association we are not equipped to handle trash removal of this size,” it reads in part.
According to Moore, a sergeant with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has arranged for a special detail to catch illegal dumpers.
“They’re here one minute, they dump it and they take off,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
Sheriff Judd says deputies investigate these cases every day. Given the rural nature of Polk County and its size, law enforcement officials depend on community members reporting information on people illegally dumping.
Due to the increase in trash, Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who illegally dumps in Poinciana.
“Call us if someone dumps on your property. We have experts that can find evidence where you might not even think there’s evidence,” said Sheriff Judd.
Fast-growing areas like Poinciana are vulnerable to dumping because of all the construction underway, according to the sheriff.
“Our dumping is worse right now than it normally is because subcontractors, rather than take stuff to the dump when they finish a job, they pull off into a wooded area such as this and throw it out,” he said.
Polk County Code Enforcement Division is working with other county departments and “Keep Polk County Beautiful” to address the illegal dumping issue in the Poinciana area.
“The ongoing effort targets nuisance code violations, illegal dump sites and unmaintained construction sites,” Jeremy Maready with Polk County communications wrote in a statement.
Katie Yoxall, with Keep Polk County Beautiful, says dumping has gotten significantly worse in the last year or so, especially in Poinciana.
“We receive a number of complaints on a weekly basis and we are working with code enforcement as well as the environmental crimes unit with the sheriff’s office on illegal dumping,” she said.
The sheriff’s office is coordinating a cleanup effort Wednesday morning in Poinciana.
To report illegal dumping and receive the Crime Stoppers reward contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Environmental Unit at 863-534-7205.
If you would like to stay anonymous and be eligible for the reward, call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477) or dial TIPS from your cell phone. You can also visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip” or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.