Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

City acts to erase eyesore

LARGO — The dilapidated house looks like a strong wind could knock it over. It has broken windows, boarded-up doors and a jungle-like lawn with a shopping cart abandoned in a watery pit. It's on an otherwise well-kept street, where neighbors describe it as an endless source of rats, roaches, mosquitoes and feral cats.

The house at 3221 Hillsdale Ave. is probably the most blighted property in Largo. It has been racking up code enforcement fines for seven years, reaching a total of $160,000 — four times the property's assessed value at this point.

Its owner died three years ago. The property was remanded to his estate, but no survivors have stepped up to claim it.

Residents of a west Largo neighborhood near Indian Rocks Road are sick of it. Neighbors have taken it upon themselves to repeatedly mow and clean up the lot, trying to minimize the damage to their own property values.

At their urging, the city of Largo is finally and somewhat reluctantly foreclosing on the house, even though the laborious process could take a year and cost roughly $12,000 in legal fees.

It's a fairly drastic step for a city to take, said City Attorney Alan Zimmet. There is no bank to foreclose on the property because there is no mortgage.

Largo city commissioners voted last week to authorize the foreclosure, as nearly 20 neighborhood residents packed the commission chamber at City Hall.

"The place, from our cleanups, I can tell you is filled with roaches," said neighbor Charlane Lichatowich, who spoke on behalf of the neighborhood. "Two or three times the city has provided us with Dumpsters, which have been filled up with debris."

When neighbors recently passed around a petition calling for the foreclosure, she said, "It took two hours to get about 50 to 55 signatures."

After the homeowner, Jonathan Bresee, died in 2011, the city spent $1,650 to clean up the property, said Largo building official Bill Ondulich.

"Basically, I've exhausted all my legal remedies with the property, and it continues to this day to be a blight on the neighborhood," Ondulich said.

Assistant City Attorney Mary Hale warned that the foreclosure could take up to a year because the courts would require the city to do a due-diligence search for any heirs to Bresee's estate.

In the end, the city intends to demolish the house and put affordable housing on the lot.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151.

City acts to erase eyesore 03/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay

    Outdoors

    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  2. Police: Video shows teens watching, laughing as man drowns

    Accidents

    COCOA — Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

    Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Cocoa police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old's drowning on video. [Florida Today]
  3. As Rubio avoids public settings on health care, disabled Tampa man's story gets attention

    Blogs

    Michael Phillips was hunting demons Monday night when the news broke: The Senate health care bill was dying.

    Michael Phillips at home in Tampa with his mother, Karen Clay
  4. Shark Week 2017: Michael Phelps races a shark and other must-see specials

    Blogs

    It's that time of year again. No, not back to school month or geek convention season -- it's Shark Week.

    For almost 30 years, Discovery Channel has brought a full week of special programs on the toothy underwater predators through Shark Week.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks