JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Deloris Anderson and her husband have lived on Walnut Street in Springfield for 25 years. They’ve raised their children in their home and have long enjoyed sitting on their front porch rocking in their swing.
For more than a year, though, their peaceful view has been spoiled by the smell of garbage emanating from a large dumpster that had been used by workers renovating the home directly across the street.
The workers stopped abruptly in February of last year, when the city delivered a “stop work order” against the owner.
"They did not have a permit,” said Anderson, repeating what she said a city inspector told her when she asked why he was at the home last February.
A bright orange ‘stop work order’ was pasted on the front door February 2, 2017. Since that time, Anderson said passers-by have been using the dumpster as their own personal garbage can, adding to what was already inside it.
“Every morning when I open up my door or open up my window, I have to face that,” Anderson described, referencing the dumpster, which is overflowing with mattresses, garbage, tires and other household items. She said the smell is terrible and that the garbage has attracted rats, possums and more cats to the neighborhood.
Anderson tried to find a phone number on the dumpster to call and complain, but there was not one. The I-TEAM looked as well, and could not find one, either. Anderson said she also contacted the city of Jacksonville.
“They did come out several times and they said all they can do is give them citations and there’s nothing else they can do," Anderson said. "I said, 'but if this was in front of your door, you would find a way of getting the stuff from in front of your door removed.'”
Two city citations posted on the front windows of the vacant home on Walnut Street. They are dated January 9, 2018 and February 20, 2018, both citing the owner for failure to have an active dumpster permit.
Anderson said after a year of waiting for the city and for the owner to do the right thing, she finally called the I-TEAM. “I said, 'I’m going to call Jen and see if she can do anything about this,' and that’s what I did.”
The I-TEAM then got to work. First, we tried contacting the homeowner. We discovered the home is owned by a company, The Holding Group LLC, based in South Florida.
We tracked down a representative, Mr. Perez, who told us over the phone that the dumpster was an oversight since they had been focusing their home renovation work in South Florida. He said they had never intended to upset the neighborhood and assured me that he would have the dumpster removed within five to 10 days.
We also contacted the City of Jacksonville to find out what it was doing to remove the eyesore. Spokesperson Tia Ford told us that Code Enforcement had issued a warning citation December 1, 2017 for a dumpster on site without an active building permit.
Ford said that upon re-inspection on January 8, 2018 the property remained in violation, prompting the issuance of a paying citation in the amount of $255.00. A second paying citation was issued on February 20, 2018 and the case was pending a circuit court hearing. But, she mentioned nothing about removing the dumpster.
However, six days after our communications with the city, the dumpster was removed. At first the I-TEAM thought the home's owner, The Holding Group, had removed it. But, when we followed up with the city, Ford told us one of its solid waste contractors had actually picked it up. When we asked why it took so long, Ford sent this email:
“As this was a zoning violation, Code Enforcement did not have the authority under Chapter 656 to abate. However, due to the circumstances and the City’s commitment to addressing blighted conditions in neighborhoods, the Public Works Solid Waste Division stepped in to remove the dumpster when repeated efforts (citations, fines) requiring the property owner to do so failed. The property owner will be invoiced the cost for the removal.”
Deloris Anderson recorded video of the city removing the dumpster. She was so excited she woke her husband. “I said hey, hey, come on the truck is out here moving it,” said Anderson. ‘We got excited, very excited. We stood on the porch and watched the whole thing as it moved away and we kind of clapped after it went off.”
“We are grateful,” Anderson told me. “We were really surprised it happened that quickly. Thank you I-TEAM. Thank you Channel 4, hallelujah, right on time making a difference."
A few days after the dumpster was removed, a representative with The Holding Group contacted us and said his crew had gone to the home to remove the dumpster, but it was already gone. The Holding Group, LLC, is now expected to pay both citations and also owes the City of Jacksonville the cost of removing the dumpster.
Numbers to call where you live:
- City of Jacksonville: 630-CITY (2489)
- Nassau Co.: 530-6702
- St. Johns Co.: 824-9720
- Clay Co.: 284-6310
If you are having a persistent and lingering problem in your neighborhood, the I-TEAM would like to hear from you. Call us at (904) 479-NEWS (6397) or email me at email@example.com.