Photo: Pasco County
“The tents, blue tarp, stacks of pallets, barbed wire and general junky look at the side of Hicks Road in Hudson are gone.

The business, called Home Discount Depot, popped up in August 2017, with an illegal sign and without proper zoning permits.

‘This purported to be a retail hardware store,’ said Kristi Sims, senior assistant county attorney for Pasco County. ‘It’s not there anymore.’

Neither are the dilapidated buildings that had been the USA Flea Market on U.S. 19 near Bayonet Point nor the ramshackle trailer homes at the Lazy Breeze Mobile Home and RV Park outside Dade City.


They are some of the high-profile cases handled by Pasco County since it created its ‘high-return enforcement’ strategy a year ago. The tactic targets the owners of blighted structures or repeat violators of the county codes that are intended to preserve the public’s health, safety and welfare…

Of the cases deemed worthy of high-return enforcement, the county determined 185 buildings were blighted or damaged beyond repair. Owners knocked down 63 of their structures. That is what happened at USA Flea Market. But the county demolished 55 other buildings and put liens on the properties, hoping to recoup its costs when the properties are sold. Forty-three demolition cases are pending.

Among other highlights:

…Following Hurricane Irma, the county focused on illegal or so-called non-conforming pole signs that pre-dated the regulations requiring new businesses to install low-to-the-ground monument signs. Ten owners removed the signs or converted them to monuments, and 16 others signed agreements to do likewise. Forty-six others repaired the existing signs.

That information reignited a debate among commissioners on the merits of the county’s sign rules. Commissioner Jack Mariano said new businesses on U.S. 19 should be allowed elevated signs on poles, but [Commissioner] Starkey argued the visual clutter meant passersby couldn’t differentiate one store from another.

‘No one is proud of how (U.S.) 19 looks,’ said Starkey.

The sign debate might be irrelevant to new customers, suggested County Administrator Dan Biles, who moved to Pasco County a year ago.

He pointed out that he found businesses through internet searches for customer reviews and driving directions via his smart phone, not storefront signs.”

— C.T. Bowen,Tampa Bay Times
Read entire article