Stravos Tsalickis thought he had seen it all.
That was, until Tarpon Springs Police Department Officer Steve Gassen, 48, informed the 79-year-old Tarpon Springs resident that a tree on his property was “dead.”
The tree in question, at 431 Grand Blvd. in Tarpon Springs, would need to be removed, Gassen said, as well as a shed, which the officer who was in “poor condition.”
One problem; the tree was not dead, according to Tsalickis.
Not willing to give up either his tree or his shed, Tsalickis, a former real estate agent, took his fight against the removal order to the city’s code enforcement board.
Undeterred, Tsalickis filed a lawsuit, claiming the tree is alive and well — it recently bore fruit, in fact — and in his recent testimony before the board, the arborist brought in to testify on the condition (and apparent liveliness) of the tree was not allowed to testify.
Furthermore, the suit claims such code enforcements issued by Gassen and other officers are simply rubber stamped by the board as a “money generating enterprise fining citizens in arbitrary and capricious ways without competent substantial evidence,” as opposed to actually protecting homeowners.
According to the suit, “the City’s finding that the tree is ‘dead’ has no factual support” and that “police officer’s testimony that his common sense tells him it’s dead was pure speculation unworthy of belief.”
Neither Tsalickis, his attorney or the Tarpon Springs Code Enforcement Department returned requests for comment as of press time.