A code enforcement sweep along U.S. 41 produced a slew of warnings, citations and three building condemnations.
Code enforcement officers with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, county code enforcement inspectors, county building inspectors, and employees of animal control joined for a two-day sweep of the Land O’ Lakes corridor from State Road 54 to State Road 52.
The sweep — conducted on July 5 and July 6 — resulted in 70 warnings and seven citations. Three buildings were condemned, and one residence failed to meet minimum housing standards.
County officials said many of the warnings and citations were for junk and debris, illegal signs and banners, and inoperable vehicles.
The sweep prompted a half-dozen phone calls to Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader, with callers complaining of unfair treatment. They told Schrader citations were handed out, without prior warnings.
Last year, commissioners adopted an ordinance to enforce minimum standards for the upkeep of commercial buildings on corridors such as U.S. 41, U.S. 301 and U.S. 19.
Some Land O’ Lakes business owners lobbied against the ordinance, citing excessive government regulations.
Property owners who might need to repair their buildings were given until May 1 to bring them up to code.
“I thought they were going to be giving out warnings,” Schrader said during a recent Pasco County Commission meeting.
But, county officials said the recent sweep on U.S. 41 was a general sweep and not solely focused on commercial buildings.
“They are sweeping for everything,” said Don Rosenthal, assistant county administrator for development services.
Tharpe said residences and businesses were included in the sweep. To date in 2016 more than 45 sweeps have been completed including ones on Moon Lake Road and U.S. 19.
During the U.S. 41 sweep, the sheriff’s office participated for one day only and issued citations.
More than a year ago, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco created a code enforcement unit.
“It’s a new mission that the sheriff wanted to do to improve the quality of life,” said sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll.
Law enforcement officers can issue citations for code violations on the spot, said Doll.
That is a tool that county code enforcement inspectors don’t have, said Micah Tharpe, the county’s code compliance manager. “We are not law enforcement officers,” he said.
Instead, county inspectors first issue warnings and give people up to 30 days to correct problems prior to a reinspection.
“We expect full compliance,” Tharpe said.
On this sweep, county inspectors only handed out warnings, Tharpe said.
The next step would be to issue citations.
Published August 3, 2016