By Agrippina Fadel
The City of Tamarac is suing the owner of the “junkyard” house, and city staff is now authorized to initiate similar lawsuits for several other problematic properties.
The 1,871 square feet house at the 7800 block of NW 74th Ave in the Heathgate community was purchased in 2009 for $65,000 by Gregory and Patricia Meador.
The city has over $500,000 of code liens against the property due to the excessive amount of visible trash and junk.
On June 14, City Attorney Hans Ottinot called the house a public nuisance and a “junkyard” and said Tamarac’s community development and code department have been working for over five years to “clean it up.”
He asked for support from the city commission to initiate legal action against the owners to bring them to compliance with the code.
“Unfortunately, this is a homestead property, and the city cannot foreclose it, so we have no other choice but to use the court system,” said Ottinot, adding that the staff will give the owner one more chance to comply before initiating legal action.
Mayor Michelle Gomez said the house looks like a “perpetual yard sale – but nobody’s buying.” She added that the state of the property is a matter of the welfare and security of the residents living nearby and property values in the area.
Commissioner Elvin Villalobos said the city should not wait for the properties to get to half a million dollars in liens before suing the owners.
“[Properties like this one are] very detrimental to the neighbors. Hurricane season is upon us,” and said the city should take a step to identify houses with similar issues before the community complaints come in to ensure they are dealt with in a timely manner.
“Let [the staff] drive around, and if they see a house like that, let’s report it before it gets worse,” Villalobos said.
Since the house had been an issue since 2014, code compliance reached the point where it had done all it could, so the city should move forward with the suit, said Commissioner Kicia Daniel.
City Manager Levent Sucuoglu said the city already has a long list of similar properties with liens and expects to bring them for authorization soon.
Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton said the city needs to move quickly on bringing properties in compliance.
Gomez agreed as well, saying the commission can direct staff to proceed on bringing the owners of the houses on the list to compliance without asking for authorization for each case individually. Her colleagues agreed.
“Take them to court and get the properties cleaned up,” said Gomez. “You are hereby empowered to do what you need to do,” said Gomez to the city staff.
She said the city would try to get the owners whatever help they needed during the process.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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