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Land access unblocked – for now – amid Wimauma property dispute

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WIMAUMA, Fla. (WFLA) – The dispute isn’t over, but a farmer can finally feed his cows and a retired firefighter can finally drive home after a blocked legal easement was at least temporarily unblocked.

The unusual property dispute was uncovered by Better Call Behnken, and then Hillsborough County Code Enforcement cited Ricky Goodson of Goodson Farms for blocking the easement and instructed him to move the barricade. Goodson has moved the equipment that kept his neighbors from their land, but code enforcement documents show Goodson insists he is right and that this land is private and that he plans to fence it off.

For now, though, Scott Nessmith says he’s happy he was able to finally get hay in to his cows.

“My cows were suffering and that’s wrong,” he said.

Goodson is expected to appear before a code enforcement hearing Friday where he could face fines for blocking the easement.

When the blocked-off property owners first called Hillsborough County government and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, they say they were told it was a civil matter. So they turned to Better Call Behnken. Investigator Shannon Behnken obtained copies of deeds that show the legal easement that was first established in the 1960s, and was included in all three property owners’ 2017 deeds.

Behnken sent the deeds to county officials and, 48 hours later, code officials cited the owners of Goodson Farms – Ricky Goodson and his brother Michael Goodson – for obstructing the right-of-way easement. The violation instructed: “Remove the barrier consisting of tractor parts/obstructions from the easement which is preventing vehicle or pedestrian traffic. This section prohibits land locking the listed parcel/address/folio in this description.”

According to the code enforcement violation, Goodson could face “a fine of up to $1,000 per day for each new violation, and up to $5,000 per day for repeat violations, for each day the violation exists.”

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