With property cleaned, owner is off the hook
By ERIC STIRGUS
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001
LARGO -- The city's four-year battle with rental owner Betty Long over the condition of her units is over -- at least for now.
Largo's Code Enforcement Board decided Thursday that Long has successfully cleaned up the 2.4 acres she owns at 1388 Belcher Road S.
Long, who came before the board last month, faced a $500-a-day fine if the board ruled she was not in compliance with city codes. Board members gave Long 30 days to clean up her property.
"I think we can put this one to bed at this point," Code Enforcement Board chairman Wayne Darnell said Thursday.
Long rents trailers and two small homes on the property.
Some neighbors who live near her property said Long's units were unkempt and a breeding ground for rodents. Long denied the accusations.
Long said she was relieved by the ruling but was still worried the city may cite her again. She wondered whether the citations are an attempt to force her to sell the land she has owned since 1972.
The furor over her property dates back to June 1997, when the board first heard the case. Frustrated property owners complained that the city was lax in following up on the situation.
City officials say they lost track when one person who monitored the case retired and another left due to illness.
At last month's hearing, the board asked police, who handle code enforcement issues, to give Long a list of violations that needed to be addressed. The list included removing trash, an abandoned 1955 vehicle and clearing out metal and other items from horse stalls.
Police Lt. Glen Smith, who is in charge of code enforcement for the city, went to Long's property hours before Thursday's hearing. He was pleased with what he saw.
"She removed everything I gave her on the list," he said.
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