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Pasco ordinance will expedite slum demolition

Pasco commissioners approved a new ordinance Tuesday to expedite demolition of condemned homes.
Published Sep. 28, 2017

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners focused on home improvements Tuesday.

In the morning, the County Commission ordered two dilapidated homes demolished, but spared two others to let their owners do needed repairs. In the afternoon, the board amended an ordinance to expedite future demolitions and relinquish authority to hear owner appeals to its volunteer construction board.

The amended ordinance, approved unanimously, will halve the time owners have to appeal a condemnation order, from 60 to 30 days. The 10-member board hearing those appeals consists of seven licensed contractors and three community residents.

The changes "will provide an important benefit to the public by requiring owners to efficiently remove slum, blighted, unsafe and uninhabitable structures,'' community development director George Romangnoli said in a memo to commissioners.

The ordinance also adopts federal definitions for categorizing when a structure is considered destroyed, has major or minor damage or is affected in the event of a natural disaster.

"It makes sense,'' Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety, told commissioners last month when the ordinance was first introduced.

Separately, commissioners refused to grant a reprieve to Salvatore Poliandro, who owns two condemned homes in west Pasco. Poliandro's properties at 5519 and 5527 Leisure Lane are in an area targeted for cleanup at Pasco County's border with the city of New Port Richey. City officials have complained that blight and crime from the county neighborhood spill over to the Southgate Plaza, a retailing district in the city.

Poliandro appeared before commissioners in August and successfully argued for a one-month delay in a board decision, even though a county inspector said his mobile homes showed no evidence of workable plumbing or electrical service and were fire hazards. The cost of repairing the buildings exceeds the value of the structures, county building official Stephen Tetlak told commissioners.

Poliandro said the buildings do have working plumbing and suggested the county buy him out if it wanted the structures removed. County records show he owns 13 properties on Leisure Lane and neighboring Van Doren Avenue.

"This is a slum, and I don't see why we're letting it stay,'' Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said last month in voting against the delay.

On Tuesday, Poliandro didn't dispute the county's condemnation order at 5527 Leisure, which he said was a trailer built in 1955. He challenged the ruling at 5519 Leisure, but offered no plan to bring the structure up to code. Instead, he suggested that the county building and community development departments collude against property owners by offering vague and confusing evidence, and he said a prior sheriff's administration was to blame for the area's criminal activity.

Commissioners didn't bite on his conspiracy theories, and gave Poliandro 45 days to tear down or remove the structure, which included an illegal addition to a mobile home in a flood zone. Tetlak said the home had an incomplete kitchen and an unsanitary bathroom. Neither of Poliandro's homes were occupied at the time the county condemned them in February.

Commissioners also followed Tetlak's recommendations to stay the planned demolition of homes at 12813 Teakwood Lane in Beacon Woods in Hudson and at 2853 Raven Drive in Colonial Hills in Holiday after owners presented plans to rehabilitate the structures.

Commissioner Jack Mariano, who lives in Beacon Woods, voted against the repair plan for the Teakwood house, saying the unstable ground beneath it posed a danger.

"I don't want a collapse coming down the road,'' Mariano said.

County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder, however, said the commission had no legal reason to demolish the house because there was no geo-technical evidence to contradict the suitability of the owner's repair plan.

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