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Progress made for neighborhood dealing with burned house

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents along Clarice Circle in Tampa were happy to see Hillsborough County Code Enforcement and deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office show up early Friday morning.

That’s because they brought trespass warnings for people who had turned the front yard at 2032 Clarice Circle into a living room.

“I’m very happy,” said Terri Scott, who lives next door. “We’ve been trying for a long time with code enforcement, the law enforcement, and now with you, Ms. Shannon … you did for us, and we sure do appreciate you.”

County officials had already declared the home inhabitable but complained that progress was moving slowly and the people living on the lawn were disruptive.

Sylvia Scott, who lives next door, said the fire in April melted part of her fence, and her insurance company is waiting for the home next door to either be fixed or torn down.

“They can’t do anything to help me,” Scott said. “I just want my fence fixed.”

Complicating matters, the county says one of the three people living on the property is a family member of the property owner.

There’s junk and trash everywhere, clothes lines and a pool full of green gunk. The property has no mortgage, and Code Enforcement said earlier this week they had been unable to reach the owner. Residents felt the county was dragging their feet, so Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken went straight to the top.

Code Enforcement Director Joe Gross said earlier this week that code officials called law enforcement about the people on the property but deputies couldn’t reach the owner either. Family members of the elderly property owner dispute that.

After questions from Better Call Behnken, the county and family of the property owner connected.

Deputies say the property owner requested everyone living on the property to leave. When deputies arrived Friday morning, no one was there, so they posted a trespass warning.

Gross says the county is now working with the property owner to determine the best way to tear down the dangerous house. If the elderly property owner is unable to do so, the county would tear down the house, he said, in about a month.

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