BROOKSVILLE — Residents of the Trails at Rivard subdivision, who have been waiting for years to see a half dozen partially built homes finished, will have to wait a little longer.
While the builder, Costa Homes, had court-ordered deadlines for completion of the exteriors of the houses, one of those was not met.
Once the July 18 deadline passed, Hernando County building officials placed a stop-work order on the structure, according to a motion Costa Homes filed in Circuit Court late last month. In that motion, the builder explains the delay by saying the financing for the work was not finalized until July 3.
After the stop-work order was issued, the builder could not legally complete the work, the motion argues.
At that point, the county again posted the "unsafe structure" sign that had been there before the county and the builder reached a settlement agreement over the unfinished homes. The conditions of that settlement included language that would allow the county to proceed with a process that ends with demolition.
The settlement also allowed Costa Homes to ask for an extension, and that is what the company did through its attorney, Joe Mason. Last week, a judge granted a 60-day extension.
That move was not popular with some Rivard residents, who have fought for years to get Costa Homes and its president, Paul Bakkalapulo, to finish the homes and improve maintenance of the common areas of the subdivision or have the county force the issue with code compliance actions and demolition.
Last October, Rivard resident Al Mayles, who has been spearheading the effort, and a group of his neighbors met with county officials. They aired their long-standing concerns about the effect the unfinished houses, poorly maintained common areas and parked construction equipment were having on property values and the quality of life in their community.
Mayles said he believes the latest delay is just more of the same from Bakkalapulo.
"He has consistently defied the laws and regulations that we as citizens must comply with,'' Mayles said. "He has decreased the value of the homes in here.''
Bakkalapulo has told the Times that he wants to work with the county to get the houses completed. He says he has a vested interest because he still owns the unbuilt lots and the second phase of the subdivision.