Neighbors in Sulphur Springs are fighting an impromptu junkyard that popped up nearly overnight. Nearly 40 inoperable cars have been sitting on two empty lots near the intersection of Juneau Street and Nebraska Avenue for months.
"One morning we woke up we had 20. The next morning we had 35 of them," Darien Pease Sr. who lives next to the property said.
Pease said he contacted the owner of the property, Lawrence Bailin, immediately after the cars started showing up.
The City of Tampa has cited Bailin for the issues twice. The property is zoned commercial, but it's surrounded by residential properties on two sides. The property is not permitted to be a junkyard and has no buffer or fence. Neighbors say the homeless, prostitutes and drug users are in and out of the cars day and night.
"Why do we have to get up in the morning and see that first thing in the morning," neighbor Carmen Morales said. "How would he feel if this was going on in his community."
We went to Bailin's home on Davis Island to ask him just that. He did not answer the door, but we did contact him over the phone. Bailin explained he is leasing the property to the owner of a business called Prudent Point. He said he is giving the tenant time to get proper permits and bring the property up to code before acting himself.
We contacted the listed owner of Prudent Point as well.
"You actually doing a story on that?" Osuji Ndidi said. "That's already a terrible neighborhood, but we're going to make it better."
Ndidi explained he wants to turn the property into a vehicle maintenance business. He says he plans to add fencing and reduce the amount of vehicles on the property within 30 days.
"You can come out in 30 days and see what it looks like then," he said
When asked why he didn't do all of those things before hand, he said, "In hindsight, we should have."
The City of Tampa is fighting the blight on two fronts. They've already taken the property owner to civil court where a judge ordered the vehicles be removed within 45 days. That was just last week. There is also a zoning board hearing scheduled for next week where a magistrate can impose fines for every day the violations are not corrected.