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Mysterious land trust warns of legal action in Aloha Gardens dispute

HOLIDAY — When workers showed up Sunday to dismantle his shed, Sam Dennewitz called the law and caught a break: A Pasco County sheriff's deputy told the workers to hold off on doing anything until they got a court order.

Dennewitz owns the shed, but a land trust bought the tax deed for the land underneath it in March.

Now the land trust has issued a warning to law enforcement: Let us remove the shed now — or risk legal action.

"Are we not perfectly within our rights to remove a shed from this property that we own?" asks the Friday e-mail. "We are documenting the interactions with law enforcement on our parcel, and we hope that our rights as property owners will be upheld without the necessity of legal action."

Staying true to form, the secretive (818) 239-2215 Land Trust sent the e-mail from a Web site called anonymousemail.com. The e-mail was also sent to the Pasco County Attorney's Office and to news reporters.

The land trust paid $1,146.85 for the 20-foot strip of land that runs behind nine Aloha Gardens homes. Residents had assumed the land was part of a utility easement at the edge of their back yards.

Without saying why, the trust has targeted its attention in the neighborhood on the shed, which sits on its property next to Dennewitz's yard.

Dennewitz said the shed was already there when he moved in nearly a dozen years ago. A land trust representative called Dennewitz several times, trying to get him to rent the property. After he kept refusing, anonymous trust representatives publicly blamed the 64-year-old military veteran for their decision to "more aggressively market this parcel."

That statement came in a letter to other Aloha Garden homeowners. The letter said the starting price on the land is $25,000 but that the trust would be willing to negotiate with neighbors.

However, the letter also noted what it said were other potential buyers with interests ranging from recreational vehicle storage to a ministry for the homeless. (Those uses are not possible under county zoning requirements, said Lee Millard, assistant zoning administrator.)

Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll emphasized that the issue is a civil matter. He said in these types of cases, the deputies need direction from the court.

"I think the deputy made the right move due to the murkiness of the situation," Doll said.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Mysterious land trust warns of legal action in Aloha Gardens dispute 05/09/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2008 11:07am]
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