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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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St. Pete fines councilman over messy yard

ST. PETERSBURG — City Council Chairman Karl Nurse is a frequent critic of banks that foreclose on homes but fail to maintain them, forcing the city to pick up the tab for city workers to mow overgrown yards.

Turns out Nurse also had a problem keeping his yard up to standard.

This week, the city placed a $184 lien on a home Nurse owes in South St. Petersburg because sanitation workers were forced to clear his overgrown yard. As is standard, Nurse was first sent a warning notification on Sept. 3 giving him 10 days to take care of the yard before the city took action.

The property, in the 1600 block of 19th Avenue South, is just a breeze-block shell that Nurse bought with an eye toward rehabbing it. Nurse has bought and renovated several foreclosed and run-down properties in an effort to reduce poverty and blight in his district.

Nurse said the yard was supposed to be maintained by a local lawn service he helped start to create local jobs. The fledgling firm was overwhelmed during the rainy season and failed to mow the yard, he said. Nurse said he did not receive a warning notice from the city.

“I went through my mail again; I didn't see a notice,” he said. “It's my fault. I'll pay the fee.”

Code enforcement photos show that the rear of the lot was badly overgrown. The notice was mailed to Nurse's residential home, records show.

Nurse said he has since spoken to his lawn company to make sure the yard is on their schedule and will be regularly mown.

The lot, which Nurse bought for $4,500 in 2012, is a popular site for people to dump trash, meaning Nurse has had to get it cleaned up several times.

The property has proven to be a tough turnaround project. Nonprofit groups to whom Nurse offered the property have declined, saying they would not be able to break even if they developed it.

“I'm in a quagmire,” Nurse said. “All I was trying to do was to get rid of one blighted property.”

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