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Family fears vacant home next door in Springfield

5:43 PM, Jul 4, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a house four family members call their worst nightmare. And it's not even theirs.

Meet the Palmer family: Robby, Shannon and their two kids Dakota and Kylee.  They love their home in historic Springfield. "It's just peaceful, this is a lovely, peaceful block," Shannon said.

They're crazy about the area, except for four looming, vacant properties right next door, that are driving them crazy. Homes they say, have been literally falling apart.

Shannon said, "I can't tell you how many times in the middle of the night, we're awakened.  Just the flap, flap, flap noise, you're heart's beating, you're waiting. It's going to come off and I hope it doesn't land in my children's bedroom."

The Palmers said the home is more than just an eyesore, it's a danger, with pieces, sharp pieces flying off the property.  And there is dangling pieces of material on the roof.  They worry that could fly through their kid's windows."

"I go to bed every night with the same prayer. Please don't let somebody get into the house and set fire to it. Please don't let the wind blow too hard and through a piece through one of my children's windows," Shannon said.

The Palmer's say they have a lot to pray about with this property.  This slab of metal hit Shannon while she was on her patio a couple of months ago. "I had long sleeves and a jacket on so when it hit me, I had a barrier, it wasn't just skin. So the police officer came out and we filled out a general office incident report."

The Palmers worry this falling metal is just a smaller sign of what could be a tragic end to their growing problem. "So there's not even the back half of a support, and unfortunately, if this column goes, it's probably going to go toward my house. This is just another piece of the house with a good wind is going to come flying off," she explained

Orange notices show the City has condemned at least two of these properties. Shannon said, "We have on several occasions had to call the police and run off vagrants."

We called the owner of all four of these properties.  His name Orlando Florete.  He said he was out of town and could not talk.  He told us a man named Travis takes care of his properties, but he would not give us his phone number.

In the process of trying to interview Florete, we drove to his Southside home. We learned he does know how to maintain a property.  Gates surround his nearly 5,500 square foot home that tax records show is worth  more than $1.1 million.

This, while the Palmer's back in Springfield say they are living in fear and frustration. Robby said, "My children are scared especially on a breezy night because you hear that metal roof flapping over and it's almost like a noise ordinance concern because it is so loud and it wakes us up in the middle of the night.  And if that metal breaks off and comes through the house, I just pray that nobody gets hurt."

Shannon added, "I have cried many a tear over this house and the frustrating situation I have, talking to people at code, talking to City Council Members."

Tomorrow on First Coast News, more on why this family said they can't get anything done with this problem property. And first for you, what you can do if you have this type of problem. 

When the City re-opens after the holiday, we will see what action they have taken against these properties and the owner. Also, what the historic preservation has to say about this.

First Coast News

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