NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a neighborhood just off the Edison Bridge, a community is dealing with a squatter occupying a property. Local residents are uniting to voice the concerns about the problems popping up in their neighborhood.
Heather Rowe, the property owner and FOX 4 employee, recounted her experiences with the squatter.
"I told him he could stay in the camper for a short period of time... And then, the trash started coming."
Unfortunately, along with the accumulation of trash, Rowe will soon face fines of $750 per day. The fines are due to the three code violations related to the squatter's unauthorized residence on her property:
- Portable traveling camper without current registration plate parked on property.
- Nuisance Accumulation. Consisting of but not limited to discarded toilets, several scrap bicycles, open trailer of miscellaneous bicycle parts, plastic bins, scrap metals, scrap wood, used rubber tires, clothing and scattered miscellaneous garbage and debris on property.
- Main Living In Camper Prohibited. Consisting of but not limited to subject using portable camper as main living 24/7 on a TFC-2 zoned property not permitted and must be removed.
Despite reaching out to law enforcement, Rowe faced challenges in resolving the issue. The police informed her that it was a civil matter, urging her to wait for a resolution through the legal system.
Heather Rowe's home had been devastated by Hurricane Ian, and since then, Barry Ballard, the squatter, admitted to frequenting her house without her knowledge.
"She didn't even know, like we'd just stay here and we'd leave by two o'clock cause she'd be here," he said.
When asked why he hasn't vacated the premises, Ballard mentioned waiting for a car part and expected his truck to be operational within three days.
The issue extends beyond Rowe's property. Other neighbors have also experienced problems caused by the squatter and his pet.
A concerned neighbor, stated, "I've had to call animal control and everything, and it's getting very old."
Another neighbor, expressed her distress at the situation,
"After going through a hurricane and losing everything I had, and this happens, this is horrible. I look out my window and it's like I'm living in an alley."
As the weekend approaches, the property owner is gearing up for a cleanup effort, aimed at removing the trash and debris left behind by the squatter.