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Neglected Pinellas yard getting cleaned up

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Neighbor's tree falls on Largo house Neighbor's tree falls on Largo house
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL - Pinellas County code enforcement contractors have finally started cleaning up a home at 10466 112th Ave. in unincorporated Largo that has been plaguing neighbors for months.

Mike Mallett owns the home next door, and he said a work crew has removed many of the branches that have clogged the home's side yard for months. Mallett has made numerous complaints to code enforcement, alerting them to a massive tree that fell in the backyard months ago. But the problems don't stop there. Weeds stand several feet high, and the backyard is inaccessible because of fallen debris.

That tree fell on the roof of Mike Mallett's home next door back in August.

"I just put a brand new roof on this house here, which is my rental house, and the very next day, part of the tree had fallen on my roof," said Mallett, with obvious frustration.

His tenants called him, telling him the tree had been struck by lightning and landed on the roof with a loud boom. The tree branches pulled the electric meter from the home and brought down wires. Fortunately, no damage was done to Mallett's property.

Across the street, Mike Bushey is frustrated, too.

"We're sick of looking at it," he said. "I had a neighbor put in a nice, big, beautiful picture window for me, and I have this for my view."

Mallett called Pinellas County code enforcement to get something done about the house next door. But now, two months later, the fallen tree blocks the entire back yard, and weeds continue to grow out front.

"Right off the bat, I told them it was a fire hazard. I told them it was a rodent hazard. I think they should have done due diligence and come out and seen how bad it was," he said.

Related story: Tampa city council wants to crack down on code violators

Mallett called 8 On Your Side to get some help getting the yard cleaned up. A spokesperson for Pinellas County said the complaint had been filed as an unmowed yard complaint. But within a few days, a code enforcement employee did post a notice on the property, alerting the owner he had until Tuesday to clean up the problem.

"I don't think any of the neighbors in the area, or I, should have to have this going on for months and months," Mallett said.

But Pinellas code enforcement manager Todd Myers said cleaning up vacant homes is not as easy as it sounds.

"We have to provide due process, appropriate notice, so folks are aware, if you don't do this, we're going to do it," he said.

That means problems like this one can often drag out for 60 to 90 days. Code enforcement had to contact the homeowner, who lives in Connecticut, asking him to clean up the property. When they didn't get any response from him, the posted a notice for 20 days, and once that expired, a contractor could come in.

Pinellas County said contractors would clean up the yard within 10 days. A lien will be placed against the property for any costs incurred.
 

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