1. Archive

Building rules need attention in Port Richey

Editor: I, too, am concerned about the practices and lack of enforcement of building and zoning regulations by both former and current building officials in Port Richey. I think the investigations should be broadened to encompass many other areas.

My husband and I moved to Port Richey in 1979, living a very quiet life until the mid 1980s, when we purchased C-3 property, which we still own. Then our lives became a nightmare.

The C-3 property across the street, which was located on about 10 acres, was presented to and approved by City Council as 20 lots of equal size with 20 structures. There were supposed to be professional offices located on the site. This is documented. Since that time, 24 structures have been built, 20 of them by unlicensed contractors at a declared value of $18,000 to $22,000, which is very much under its value. The structures were immediately sold for $80,000 to $150,000.

When a sewing machine manufacturing plant wanted to open in one of the first structures built in July 1985, the Board of Adjustments ruled against not the business but the use, which was industrial. The city ignored my questions and complaints regarding the construction of these structures and the use of them. State agencies stopped the construction after my complaints. Since that time, many of these structures have been modified, often without building permits or fire inspections, and with the use of unlicensed contractors. Complaints to the building department were often ignored and violations were allowed to continue.

Ordinance 6.05 pertains to off-street parking. This ordinance has been totally ignored, and this has caused major problems because our street is only 17 feet wide and has no shoulder. Also, trucks trying to negotiate a corner coming onto our street continually drive onto private property, narrowly missing parked vehicles. The majority of the problems are semitrailer trucks and trailers parking on the road to offload machinery, products and supplies and car haulers that unload vehicles on the road.

The present and former building officials have clearly ignored zoning regulations and allowed business to open and operate in C-3. These businesses should be in I-1 zoning.

Some of the violations to the zoning include: manufacturing of lead products, manufacturing of wood products, steel machine shops, brake remanufacturing and allowing a person who resides in one of the warehouses to dump massive amounts of polluted materials from around four of the structures into a retention pond. (The city would do nothing about this matter, and state agencies finally prosecuted this person.) There is mixed use of one warehouse that includes a manufacturing business, a residence and storage. Do any of the separation walls pass the fire-resistance ratings of separation as required by the building codes? We don't know because they were never inspected by the building or fire departments.

Most work to these structures have been started on nights, weekends and holidays _ when city offices are closed. But once the violation has occurred, it is grandfathered in; and the city allows the violation to continue.

At present we have a new industrial business in our C-3 zoning. The business owner told me he was going to manufacture and fabricate plastics. The building official, Bill Sanders, told me that he had given permission to get the machinery into the structure to protect it from the weather and that the power would not be connected until the owner went to the board of adjustments to obtain a variance. Mr. Sanders also said the business was allowed because there is a very fine line between C-3 and I-1. The building official, according to Bette Farmerie, has now issued a temporary permit and a business tax certificate, allowing this business to operate out of the C-3 zoning.

So much for believing what city officials tell you.

Because of repeated questions and concerns to the city, I have been ridiculed, harassed, threatened with lawsuits and libeled by some city officials. I have enough documentation regarding violations to fill a semitrailer truck. But then I would have to park on the road, and I might get a ticket for that _ although no one else gets tickets.

I think we need a complete and thorough investigation into present and past building department practices, and the investigation should include other areas of Port Richey government. You be the judge. Do we really need a complete investigation in our little city by the river?

Delores Felske

Port Richey

State should get rid of DCF

Editor: In the last few months, we, the people of Florida, have been exposed to an incompetent organization: the Department of Children and Families. In the 33 years of this organization, children have been murdered and abandoned because of the incompetence of its case workers. Those people are not properly trained or lack the understanding of having a family.

A male case worker came to my home, a two-bedroom duplex, telling me my home was too small to raise my daughter. Let me tell you, as a child with my brother and sister, we lived in a two-room apartment in Germany.

I was accused by HRS _ the predecessor of DCF _ of sexual child abuse of my daughter. This was proved unfounded by our doctor and a formal administrative hearing by the state of Florida, but the HRS would not recognize the court findings. Then I was told that I could not see my daughter anymore. A judge told my ex-wife that she could move to Tennessee. The HRS would not recognize my ex-wife's conviction of shopliftting in a Pasco Court.

I have for many years tried with no success to establish a father-daughter relationship. The person who established the HRS once said he was sorry to have created such a disaster.

Let me point out which group of professionals has blessed HRS action: the circuit court of the state of Florida. Men do not have a chance in this state to be proper parents. Accusations such as this can affect a father in other aspects of his life. The St. Petersburg Times published an article a day prior to the election of the mayor for the city of New Port Richey. The writer never checked the real facts. No need to say that I lost the election.

My daughter is 18 years old now, and I have not seen her for 13 years.

Why don't the people of Florida tell our governor to get rid of this organization and let each county take care of its own problems and start from scratch? I could write a book about my work with young people, but that would take too long.

Rainer Karls, New Port Richey

Discipline needed for pet owners

Re: County license tags could save your pet's life, July 14 guest column.

Editor: Although Denise Hilton's plea for dogs to have identification is laudable, the information supplied with her first three paragraphs are arguable for the following reasons:

Last February, my elderly neighbor was attacked by two large dogs, a black Labrador and a German shepherd. The 78-year-old woman has spent years volunteering for several Pasco animal shelters. She loves animals. She knows how to approach or not approach animals safely. Her attack, which I witnessed, was unprovoked. She was walking down her driveway to retrieve her delivered mail. The dogs attacked her from behind.

Although not seriously hurt, she still suffered seven bites.

These dogs have been seen on numerous occasions running loose in our Beacon Hill neighborhood. We immediately called Animal Control after two contract laborers scared the dogs away, and I applied hydrogen peroxide to her bites. The officer showed up about a half an hour later, took down our information, and stated they would search the neighborhood for the dogs, which were found several hours later. The dogs were kept for two days, then released when the owner provide proof of vaccinations.

With neighbors' affidavits submitted, Animal Control cited the dog's owner. We were told that the dogs were to be kept in the house or the fenced backyard. But several weeks later the dogs again were running loose. This time one neighbor had a camera to document it. Weeks later and with additional neighbors' affidavits, the dog's owner was cited a second time. Then one afternoon, the dogs were loose again. We called Animal Control. But no officer showed. Instead a police officer came by. He told us that we should now just call the Sheriff's Department because Animal Control was not very good with follow-up complaints. An Animal Control officer came by two days later.

If Pasco Animal Control has an "award winning staff," why does it not force the owner of these dogs to keep them in the house or the fenced yard? There are a lot of elderly people as well as young children in this neighborhood.

Yes, identification would prevent the sad circumstance of unnecessary euthanasia. But should not the focus be on the humans who are irresponsible and those who suffer attacks because of owners' irresponsibility?

Sarah H. Ivanov, New Port Richey

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