BROOKSVILLE — Paul Bakkalapulo and his home-building business, Costa Homes, have won another temporary reprieve from the wrecking ball.
In a settlement between the builder and Hernando County, Bakkalapulo will get another shot at pulling new building permits and completing work on six homes that have sat unfinished for several years in the Trails at Rivard subdivision, south of Brooksville.
Residents have been pushing county officials to get the homes razed. Two years ago, Bakkalapulo was given a deadline that he didn't meet. Last year, county officials tagged the buildings as unsafe. The county tore one down, then ordered that the other six be completed or they would be bulldozed.
Again, Bakkalapulo missed a deadline, arguing that the county could not force him to provide a $10,000 escrow account for each unfinished home. He sued the county, and the judge ordered the parties to resolve the issue.
The outcome was a settlement in which Bakkalapulo must pick up completion permits from the county building department by Jan. 21. For five of the six structures, exterior work must be done within 120 days of the Dec. 20, 2013, pre-construction meeting. He has 210 days for the sixth structure, which is now little more than partial walls.
Within 180 days after the county inspects and approves the exteriors, Bakkalapulo must obtain certificates of occupancy. If he fails on any point, the county can resume the unsafe building abatement process and commence demolition.
The builder has several appeal and deadline extension options outlined in the settlement.
"Obviously, we're extremely disappointed,'' said Rivard resident Al Mayles, who has spearheaded efforts to get the unfinished homes removed from the community.
"We're extremely disappointed that the county has not abided by a fair standard and has not taken care of the citizens of this county and instead was biased toward unscrupulous builders.''
While Mayles said residents understand that county officials tend to look favorably on the building industry, "we also understand that they have a broad responsibility to take care of the needs of the citizens, and they haven't complied with that.''
Costa Homes attorney Joe Mason said completion of the homes will proceed in the manner outlined in the agreement.
"It's probably a pretty tight timeline,'' Mason said, "but it's doable."