Hillsborough code enforcement changes after 8 On Your Side inves - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Hillsborough code enforcement changes after 8 On Your Side investigation

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The Valrico property has piled up fines for code violations since 2003. The Valrico property has piled up fines for code violations since 2003.
A portion of the lot at 1602 Main St. in Valrico was mowed on Thursday. A portion of the lot at 1602 Main St. in Valrico was mowed on Thursday.
Neighbors see light at the end of the tunnel now that a portion of 1602 Main St. Valrico was mowed. Neighbors see light at the end of the tunnel now that a portion of 1602 Main St. Valrico was mowed.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Just days after an 8 On Your Side investigation exposed the mess on on a property on Main Street in Valrico, Hillsborough County code enforcement says it is changing the manner in which it handles derelict properties.

Code enforcement manager Jim Blinck says a task force made up of folks from other county departments and agencies will try to come up with solutions to bring problem properties into compliance.

Neighbors have waited eleven years for the county to take action at 1602 Main Street, a property owned by Glenda and Richard Smith. Code enforcement began assessing fines for accumulation of junk, trash and debris as well as overgrown conditions in 2003.

In 2009 the Smiths were again cited for bringing temporary storage containers onto the property as well as an RV, in which they live.

Fines now exceed $981,000.

Code enforcement currently fines properties like the Smiths for code violations. If property owners don't comply, the meter keeps running. And that's where it stops.

Problems like what exists at 1602 Main Street did not get to policy makers until 8 On Your Side exposed this million dollar violator. County commissioners took notice at their Wednesday meeting.

"It shouldn't take a fine increasing up to a million dollars level for us as decision makers to be able to see it is time to do something. Unfortunately, this should have been brought to our attention a lot sooner. It shouldn't have gotten this far," commissioner Victor Crist said.

Neighbor Ed Tewmey started complaining to code enforcement about 1602 Main Street back in 2004.

"If nobody know about it until you brought it up, to their attention, something is really lacking. They need to get, as the saying goes, get their ducks in a row," Tewmey told 8 On Your Side.

Tewmey sees some light at the end of the tunnel. The junk, debris and storage containers remain. But on Thursday, a tractor with a mower showed up and whacked down 4 foot high weeds on one part of the property.

"8 On Your Side and you have helped, one hundred percent. I had no action whatsoever before, with all the complaints I put in," Tewmey said. "When I called you, well, the action started. And I appreciate it very much."

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



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