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With missed deadline, county plans to demolish unfinished homes at Rivard

Residents living in the Rivard community are upset over unfinished homes that have become eyesores.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Residents living in the Rivard community are upset over unfinished homes that have become eyesores.

BROOKSVILLE — County officials are preparing to demolish six homes in the Trails at Rivard that have sat unfinished for years after the builder missed a key deadline last week.

Paul Bakkalapulo of Costa Homes had until Friday to obtain permits to complete the homes; otherwise demolition would begin. County building officials kept vigil until the close of business on Friday, but no one came to pay for and pick up the permits or post the required bond or $10,000 in escrow per site.

Those were among the requirements set by the county when the home sites were declared unsafe in August.

Reached on his cellphone in New York at the time of the deadline, Bakkalapulo said he had a lawyer on the case.

"I'd just really rather not make a comment at this time, but I am working with the county,'' he said.

First thing Monday morning, Jodi Singer, the Building Department operations manager, voided the permits that had been prepared.

In preparation for the next step, the county has advertised for demolition contractors and plans to prequalify several in order to move forward. The approval of that process is set for consideration by the County Commission on Tuesday.

Commissioner Nick Nicholson said that deputy county attorney Jon Jouben "has said that we're all set to go. Everybody is on board for this.''

Demolition will be welcomed by the neighbors of the vacant eyesores.

For several years, they have been trying to get the county to either force Bakkalapulo to build the structures to Florida Building Code standards or take down the houses.

One two-story home was demolished in August, and a lien was placed on the property. The same process will be used for the other six.

Another of the homes was rebuilt, and still another is under construction, but residents are concerned about its condition. With the six structures that Bakkalapulo had said he wanted to finish but didn't get permits for, the county required each to have an affidavit from an engineer verifying that they were sound enough to complete. That wasn't the case with the one on Dog Leg Court that is currently under construction.

In an email to Ron Pianta, the assistant county administrator for planning and development, resident Al Mayles also points out that the affidavits provided for the six other houses were all signed by an engineer named Kosta Bakkalapulo, clearly a relative of the builder, which could pose a conflict of interest.

In addition, Mayles noted several other omissions and mistakes in the affidavits.

"These dubious 'affidavits' are prime examples of the subpar services Rivard residents continue to receive from Paul Bakkalapulo, a.k.a., P & C Construction, a.k.a., Costa Homes Inc., etc.,'' Mayles told Pianta.

Since word has spread that the county plans to proceed with demolition, Mayles said his neighbors are "ecstatic,'' but they won't rest until the job is done. He said they have seen too many delays and too many problems to be trustful.

"We are skeptical about the honesty and integrity of what's going on,'' he said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

With missed deadline, county plans to demolish unfinished homes at Rivard 11/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 7:02pm]
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