WJTV News Channel 12 - Neglected Valrico property gets cleaned up

Neglected Valrico property gets cleaned up

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VALRICO, FL (WFLA) -

There is light at the end of the tunnel in county code enforcement quagmire in Valrico.

For weeks, 8 On Your Side has revealed how Hillsborough County proved impotent dealing with a neglected Valrico property.

Now, that is changing and clean-up is underway.

Where jungle thick trees, vines and weeds once stood at 1602 Main Street in Valrico, there are now large swaths of the lot that heavy machinery has worked to clear and flatten.

The property is owned by Richard and Glenda Smith. Hillsborough County began citing and fining the Smiths for code violations in 2003 for overgrowth and accumulation of junk and debris.

Their fines now total close to $1 million.

It is the compassion of Smith's co-workers - not fear of county action - that got the ball rolling here.

Friday morning, work crews dragged junk and debris to a dumpster. A Bobcat scooped up mounds of old tarps, rotting logs and tires, and dropped it into a dumpster

The Seminole Indian tribe of Florida donated the manpower and equipment for the clean-up.

According to Seminole Police Lieutenant Jerry Herren, Richard Smith is a Seminole employee and he needs help.

"Our objective is to not only help a person that works with us, we're also trying to help him with his neighbors, so that everybody can live in harmony," Herren explained.

Workers filled a total of three dumpsters Friday.

8 On Your Side contacted Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham nearly a month ago about this problem property.

Higginbotham worked behind the scenes, reaching out to the Tampa Bay Builders Association, which contacted Richard's Hauling Services. Richard's supplied the dumpsters and hauled them off.

As the clean-up wound wrapped up, Higginbotham met with Ed Tewmey, the neighbor who contacted 8 On Your Side after the county failed to force a clean-up.

Higginbotham also met with property owner Richard Smith.

"Obviously it was a family that needed help and here we are helping them. You guys did a great job helping bring this to the attention of all of us and we are getting something done. That is good," Higginbotham said.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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