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House in road must be towed

Published Oct. 18, 2005

A house that has been stuck in the middle of a street for more than a year might finally be moved. A circuit judge told the owner of the house, Michael A. Sofarelli, on Monday that because he no longer owns property on John's Parkway where he intended to put the house, he'll have 14 days to move it out of the middle of the street, according to court records.

Sofarelli's lot at 3109 John's Parkway was sold recently at a sheriff's auction to pay a judgment against the property.

If Sofarelli can prove to the court that he can't afford to move the wooden house or can't move the house lawfully somewhere else within the 14-day period, he will not be penalized, court documents say.

Sofarelli's attorneys did not return the Times' telephone calls Tuesday and Wednesday.

But if Sofarelli doesn't move the house, the judge will order the county to move it, lawyers involved in the case said.

"Now that Sofarelli doesn't own any property in the street, there's absolutely no reason for the house to be on the street," and the judge concurred, said James Staack, who has represented the residents of John's Parkway since they first tried to prevent Sofarelli from moving the house down the street.

The dispute between Sofarelli and the residents has been fought on the street and has been bounced in and out of the courts since September 1989.

The dispute wound up in state court and then federal court, before a federal magistrate sent it back to the state level. It was to be decided whether Sofarelli could move his 32-foot-wide house down the 30-foot-wide gravel road. The residents wouldn't let Sofarelli cross over 2 feet of what they claim is private property.

The dispute is to be featured on the Sally Jessy Raphael TV show later this month, said Cindy Schneider, a spokeswoman for the show. Raphael's guests will include Sofarelli, Robert Merkle, whose firm represents Sofarelli, and two John's Parkway residents, David Cahalan and Kletia Carlson, Schneider said. They were in New York City on Tuesday taping the show.

The show's theme, Schneider said, is: "Neighbors who don't get along." The Clearwater group will appear with a pair of feuding neighbors from Ohio.

"It's just neighbors who do one rotten thing after another to each other," Schneider said of the Ohio guests. "I'm sure it happens all over the place."

The hourlong show is scheduled to be broadcast at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 on WTSP-Ch. 10, Schneider said.

_ Staff writer Teresa Burney contributed to this report.