Violation signs on homes disappear

The notices are removed after Largo inspectors tagged 15 uninhabitable homes at Sunpiper Mobile Home Park. A city leader says that's illegal.

Published July 29, 2006

LARGO - Signs posted on 15 uninhabitable homes at Sunpiper Mobile Home Park were removed shortly after city inspectors and code enforcement officers tagged homes in a sweep of the park Wednesday.

"As soon as you guys left, they took them all off," said resident Carolyn Reed, who witnessed the city's sweep Wednesday.

Building official Mike Sizemore said removing the signs was illegal and that a city inspector noticed the missing signs the next morning.

When asked about the missing signs Friday, one of the park's owners, Andrea Trani, hung up on a reporter twice. But her attorney, Mike Rodriguez, said he doubts the owners removed them and questioned whether Largo officials removed them.

Thirty-one violations were issued. Five were issued to homes where sewage seeped from the bottom, officials said.

Sizemore said the owners, not the tenants, were responsible for handling all violations. Most must be fixed within 72 hours, or they could come before the city's code enforcement board, he said.

Key Largo Communities, which purchased the park about three weeks ago, was formerly known as Proud Mary Marina Corp., which filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

The company's assets included a mobile home park in Citrus County called Sportsman's Cove. In a 2003 St. Petersburg Times story, several residents said conditions deteriorated at the park after Trani's corporation took over.

Rodriguez said the bankruptcy had nothing to do with the way that Sportsman's Cove was run.

Largo has asked Progress Energy to cut power to Sunpiper's uninhabitable units. Officials also planned to send a letter to the park owner requesting the removal or demolition of condemned units, Sizemore said. If the units are not removed, he said, the city may remove them.

"If they start occupying the units we have posted as uninhabitable, we're going to have to go to a judge," Sizemore said.

Rodriguez said the city unfairly targeted his clients, who have had little time to fix up an already run-down park.

"This is just a ploy to get rid of that mobile home park," Rodriguez said.