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Aripeka's Rambo fights to stay in his woodsy home

Dean Grubb, here in 2009, insists his claim to the brushy chunk of land where he lives is legal. The Southwest Florida Water Management District disagrees and has sued to evict him.

LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Times (2009)

Dean Grubb, here in 2009, insists his claim to the brushy chunk of land where he lives is legal. The Southwest Florida Water Management District disagrees and has sued to evict him.

ARIPEKA — Rambo is going to court.

Dean Grubb — Rambo to his friends — is a renegade dude who spotted a piece of coastline while fishing years ago and wondered who owned it. According to the property appraiser, no one did. So, in 1993, Grubb claimed it as his own. He has been living there for a few years now in a makeshift shelter, clearing a path in what he says is a public easement to get to the coastal property.

He was kicked out once: Arrested in 2008 after complaints from the Sun West mine company to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. The mine company said it owned the land that Grubb claims is a public easement. He was charged with trespassing and possession of marijuana for having what he called "half a doob" on him.

He came back.

In December 2010, the Southwest Florida Water Management District acquired some Sun West land in a swap. What Grubb is now living on is part of the Weeki Wachee Preserve, according to the district.

Spokeswoman Robyn Felix said Grubb called the district in July and left a message "threatening bodily harm to any district staff that might try to remove him or force him to leave the property."

Grubb, 50, said he never threatened anybody.

"No, I called them and told them to quit bothering with me," he said.

Grubb said he might have made one threat:

"If you come on my property I'll put you over my knee and spank you," he said. "I know that's legal."

But the whiff of violence and the stubbornness of Grubb, who wholeheartedly believes he has every right to be on that property and says he has the documentation to prove it, led to this:

The district has sued Grubb and papers were served Thursday. The suit claims Grubb unlawfully squatted on property that belongs to the district.

"He feels he has a right to this property," Felix said, "so by going through civil courts, he will have his opportunity to present his case to a court."

Friday afternoon, Grubb was going fishing. He said he's not worried.

"I'm legal," he said. "I'm just going to show the judge all the paperwork."

He said he keeps fighting for this land because it's a part of him. It's his land, he says. He wants to be outside, in nature, away from people.

"I'm just tired of living in town," he said.

Of course living in the woods brings its own dangers. Grubb accidentally shot himself in the leg in June after hearing what he thought was a panther in the woods and falling off his tractor, according to a sheriff's report.

His brother drove him to the hospital. He was okay.

Grubb is hopeful that this case will be the end of people hassling him about the land and that it will be officially seen, by all, as his.

"I know I'm right, 100 percent," he said. "They threw me in jail for 14 days. They've dogged me. Now they want to take me to court.

"This is a good thing. Maybe I'll get somebody to hear me."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Aripeka's Rambo fights to stay in his woodsy home 03/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 8:21pm]
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