Plant City’s Code Enforcement Board is working hard to make sure the city doesn’t go to the dumps…more specifically, that people don’t illegal dump trash and debris on private and city property.
It’s happening on multiple roadways throughout the city, said Code Enforcement Manager Tina Barber. City officials have cleaned up Sydney Road at least seven times since 2021.
Common products illegally dumped in Plant City include:
Throwing litter out of a car;
Chemicals and other hazardous waste;
Dumping household trash, construction debris or yard waste;
Letting someone else dump waste on your property, whether they pay you or not;
Motor oil or restaurant grease;
Hauling trash for profit and dumping it in unauthorized locations.
Some of the more unusual items found on city streets include an 18’ boat that was discarded on Roberts Ranch Road three weeks ago. “They literally tied a rope to a tree and the boat and drug it off their trailer,” said Barber.
A cow that had escaped from its owner’s property and died after it was struck by a vehicle. It wasn’t reported but still had to be disposed of properly.
Businesses have been caught getting rid of old tires, motor oil and restaurant grease. “They find a place and start dumping so they don’t have to pay the high cost to dispose of these items,” she said.
While Barber’s team of four inspectors travel the city’s streets looking for code enforcement issues, she said citizens are now helping out the department by sending in pictures of dump sites and their locations and have even sent videos of people in the process of committing the crime. Cameras have also been installed in high dumping areas to catch perpetrators in the act. Some malefactors leave household trash that has their personal information on it, making it easy to track the trash back to an individual.
Make no mistake, illegal dumping is a crime. Depending on the size and weight of the trash, offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony and can face hefty fines and possible jail time.
Barber said her team works with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in the unincorporated area and Plant City Police Department within the city limits to prosecute the offenders. There have been eight felony arrests for illegal dumping and they’re working with 10 more cases where officers have give them a choice to either be arrested or clean it up. “Most people will clean it up when given the choice but they have to show proof that they took the material to an authorized dump but if it takes too long or it’s in a visible area we’ll remove it because we don’t want our city to look unkempt,” said Barber.
Unfortunately, the majority of illegal dumping is carried out by people living outside the city. “I’ve seen people from Lakeland, Ocala and other areas,” she said.
“Be vigilant,” she said. If you find an illegal dumpsite, call the Code Enforcement Department at (813) 659-4200 ext. 4289. If you see someone in the act of dumping illegally, contact PCPD at (813) 757-9200, noting the time of day, vehicle tag number, type of vehicle and color.