Thursday, December 14, 2017
Public safety

Two Tarpon Springs neighbors flood police department with complaints about marina next door

TARPON SPRINGS — Since it was annexed into the city more than a decade ago, police have regularly responded to Marker 25 Marina along the Anclote River.

In the past year alone, officers have visited the commercial-residential property dozens of times for complaints of noise and code violations, most of which police Chief Robert Kochen called "unfounded."

"It is a constant stream of complaints . . . and we keep investigating the same thing," he said. "Only about 5 to 10 percent of complaints are found to be legitimate."

Kochen says every single complaint about the marina — 1700 Channel Marker Way, just south of Anclote Road between Hickory Point RV Park and Meyer's Cove housing development — has come from the same two women who live in the houses to the immediate left of the property.

One of them, Ramona Pletcher, says she has lived there since 1953, when her parents brought her home from the hospital as a newborn.

"If I could describe my childhood in a word it would be 'Heaven,' " she said, gesturing to the river through the large windows in her sitting room. "It can't get much better than having the Anclote River as your front yard."

She remembers playing as a child on the shoreline, her mother pushing the windows open to let sunshine and sounds of the tide flood their bungalow. But now, she says, the noise coming from the marina is too loud for her to keep the windows open and enjoy her 2-acre hideaway.

Pletcher, 63, and her neighbor, Karen Henderson, have been sending their complaints to the department for years. They're convinced the owner of the marina, Michael Tsalickis, who declined to comment for this article, is allowing unlicensed work and crime to happen there.

They keep a binder full of information on the property, including snapshots they've taken and mug shots of tenants arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on drug, theft and child pornography charges. Each face in the pile has listed their home address as the marina, according to jail records.

"Given the number of arrests of tenants . . . I no longer feel safe in my home or on my property," Pletcher said. "I am concerned about my wellbeing."

Marina resident Pat Line, 63, moved there with her chihuahua, Tiffany, about five years ago. She says it's "peaceful" and that the only problems are that Tsalickis "lets just about anyone move in" and "people get kicked out continuously."

Line said everyone living and working at the marina knows who's calling the cops.

"They call all the time, so we know it's them," she said of Pletcher and Henderson. "They yell about everything and call the cops every time someone starts up a boat."

Henderson, who built a fulltime home on her property three years ago after using it as a weekend getaway since 1996, said she and Pletcher's complaints come with legitimate reason.

"This isn't a neighborhood, we are on 4 acres of land here," Henderson said. "We are the only people close enough to be affected by it, so that is why we are the only people complaining."

Still, neither one of them want to leave their homes.

The women say their other big concern is that Tsalickis is in violation of the restrictive covenants, or land use rules, put in place by the city when the property was annexed in 2004.

"They were created as a protection for the surrounding property owners, like us," said Henderson, 64. "They are in place for a reason and they should be followed."

The agreement is extensive and includes restrictions on use of the marina, use of the property, hours of operation, lengths of stay for residents and more.

Pletcher and Henderson recently sent a list of 11 supposed violations to the police department, but only two of the items had to be addressed, according to Sgt. Ed Miller.

He said there have been some violations, but Tsalickis has been prompt in correcting them and is mostly in compliance. If he refused to work with code enforcement, which is facilitated by the police department, the city could take him to court, Miller said.

Two weeks ago, officers told Tsalickis that Robert Hyde, a 72-year-old veteran who rents a shed from him to work on Jet Skis, could no longer do so. It was in violation of the restrictive covenant.

Hyde said the officers have been on the property four times in the last month and Tsalickis has complied with their requests by putting up signs to enforce new hours of operation.

"If we went out there and (Tsalickis) didn't work with us, he would be held accountable,'' Kochen said.

The chief says there have been more unproven complaints in the past year than ever before. So many that it's been hard to keep up and a team of people has come together to address them.

"Even as we investigate, complaints keep coming in," Kochen said. "I'm not judging that, but they are filing a lot of complaints."

"We have poured countless resources into investigating these complaints."

Pletcher said she plans to continue to have regular communication with the department until she feels her everyday life is no longer affected by the property next door.

"I will continue to fight," she said. "This is my home."

And Kochen, who says the department is doing everything it can to serve constituents, said his officers will continue to respond.

"When we get complaints we have to go out and look at them . . . That is the service we provide," he said. "We will continue to base everything on fact and circumstances, because that is how we operate."

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mreeves_tbt.

   
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