Bob Schweickert in SR 44 office

Out of the Box President Robert Schweickert Jr. sits in an office on U.S. 41 in late June. The state, which owns the property, is giving Schweickert 30 days to comply with city codes or face eviction.

The Florida Department of Transportation is giving an animal rescue 30 days to comply with a lease agreement or face eviction.

FDOT officials notified the city of Inverness that the state will not seek a special-exception permit to operate an overnight dog kennel at a plaza it owns on U.S. 41 in Inverness.

Out of the Box 41

This is a view of a small office plaza from the Citrus County Property Appraiser's website. The city of Inverness notified FDOT, which owns the property, it is in violation of city code due to use of a tenant, Out of the Box.

Instead, the state notified Out of the Box president Robert Schweickert Jr. that it must conform to local regulations, plus lease details, or it will seek an eviction in court.

State officials sent a copy of the Schweickert notice to the city, which had a scheduled a code special master hearing for Friday to determine if FDOT is violating local ordinances. FDOT gets the notice, and not Schweickert, because FDOT owns the property, assistant city manager Eric Williams said.

He said the city agreed to postpone the hearing.

“We’re going to allow them to proceed with what they’ve committed to us in writing,” Williams said.

Schweickert, who has faced three court-ordered evictions this year — including from a city-owned house — did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Out of the Box Animal Rescue, Inc.

The city of Inverness filed an eviction lawsuit to remove Out of the Box and its president Robert Schweickert Jr. from this house. The city had allowed the rescue to stay rent-free.

He and FDOT signed a one-year lease in May, set to start on July 1.

FDOT said Schweickert did not pay his $500 rent on July 1. Monthly rent for August was due Thursday.

The state also said Schweickert’s required liability insurance expired on July 12 in violation with the lease agreement.

And it also requires Schweickert to conform to local laws and regulations.

The city earlier this month sent a notice of violation to FDOT. Along with Out of the Box housing dogs overnight, which is allowed only with a special-exception permit, the city said Schweickert was illegally obtaining water from another tenant in the same building.

“Operating your business in violation of the city’s ordinances is a violation of the lease agreement,” FDOT’s letter to Schweickert reads.

The letter, dated July 29, gives Schweickert 30 days to comply.

“If Mr. Schweickert does not cure the lease violations within the required time frames, the department will bring legal action to evict him from the property,” reads FDOT’s letter to the city.

The Out of the Box Facebook page shows a dog adoption event at the U.S. 41 location on Aug. 17.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or

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