WJTV News Channel 12 - Code Violators Skate in Hillsborough County

Code Violators Skate in Hillsborough County

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If you want to let junk and trash pile up in your yard you can get away with it in Hillsborough county.

66 year old Brenda Owings has.

She owns a property at 14508 Berkford Avenue in Citrus Park.

Junk, trash and debris litter the lot from one end to the other.

Neighbors have put up with the mess for 17 years.

"It's not a good situation, it needs to go," neighbor Larry Calder complained.

County Code Enforcement can't make Owings do a thing at her property. Owings claims she lives in a house that's somewhere behind all the junk and overgrowth.

If she does, Florida's Homestead law prevents local governments from stepping foot on the property or foreclosing on it.

The mess sits in commissioner Victor Crist's district.

"You know, first of all it's atrocious that something like this is going on in our neighborhoods and been allowed to go on as long as it has," Crist said.

Following a series of 8 On Your Side reports about chronic code violators, the county is working on a new ordinance that will force into court, owners whose properties become a health hazard or public nuisance.

A question the county has not answered is where exactly does Brenda Owings really live?

"She doesn't live here (Berkford Avenue)," neighbor Bob Mullins stated.

"She hasn't lived here in about 10 years," Calder claimed.

Neighbors contend Owings actually lives blocks away in a home at 9113 Quail Stop.

Junk and overgrowth block the front of this place as well.

Owings claims Quail Stop is just her mailing address.

The property appraiser questioned her last year about her real address.

According to Deputy Chief Appraiser Warren Weathers, Owings told the office her intent was to clean up Berkford Avenue and move back.

And according to law, Weathers says that is good enough to keep the Homestead exemption. And apparently continue violating county code.

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