Progress Village residents say an abandoned property has become an overgrown dumping ground

Annie Lee Powell has called Progress Village in East Hillsborough County home for the past 46 years.
Her gated home on South 86th Street is well-kept, making what she has to see two doors down unbearable.
 
"I shouldn't have to live near a landfill," Powell said.
 
Powell is referring to the abandoned property at 5606 S. 86th St. in Tampa.
 
ABC Action News found weeds and grass waist high. In addition, people have been using the property as a dumping ground, leaving behind everything from torn up couches to used mattresses to broken televisions.
 
"It's hot now. There are rats, snakes coming out," Powell said.
 
Powell said the turning point for her came when she woke up several months ago and found a large rat on her windowsill.  She immediately called code enforcement.
 
"Everybody is tired of calling and nothing gets done," she said.
 
Powell told ABC Action News she and other residents repeatedly called code enforcement to complain but that no one got back to them and or came out to investigate.
 
ABC Action News took Powell's concerns to code enforcement Monday morning.
 
By noon, Bill Langford, director of field operations for code enforcement, showed up at the troublesome property.
 
"I am going to have this furniture that was illegally dumped here out," Langford said.
 
Langford explained the property has been a “constant” problem for the county. Within two hours, crews arrived and removed all the garbage.
 
Records show that a house used to sit on the land but it burned and was eventually razed. The current owner of the property is Karen R. Simmons, a Palm Bay resident who almost lost the property to federal forfeiture in connection with a drug case.
 
However the federal government did not want to acquire the property because of back taxes and the house’s condemned status.
 
Eventually, the house was knocked down by the county.
 
Now there are multiple liens on the property and Langford said the owner cannot be located. As a result, the property has been deemed abandoned.
 
With no one to cite, code enforcement officers have willingly picked up the slack and have mowed the property twice in the past two years.
 
"It is not our job to aesthetically maintain it on a regular basis," Langford said.
 
Langford wants to remind residents that code enforcement is currently dealing with 578 "problem child" properties across the county, just like the one on South 86th Street.
 
He added that since October, more than 252,000 square feet of overgrown grass and weeds on abandoned properties has been mowed by code enforcement officers. That is the equivalent of mowing a football field almost five times.
 
"I am going to try and get this mowed before the middle of the week," Langford said of the Progress Village property.
 
Langford said ideally code enforcement officers and members of the community can partner and split up the responsibility of upkeep.  He explained this will keep the property from becoming overgrown while code enforcers tend to other troubled properties.
 
"Right now, we can only get out here every six to eight months," Langford said.
 
Powell said she is elated the property will be cleaned up shortly.
 
"I am so happy," she said.
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