Neighbors concerned over condition of lot

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — There’s a lot off Great Rock Road that is so densely covered with vegetation, it’s hard to see there’s a house from the road. Next door neighbor Barbara Howell says she’s been filing complaints about vegetation and garbage on the property since 2003.

“The vegetation or the weeds, all the overgrowth, the Wisteria, the weed trees, that we thought we need a privacy fence. And plus she had so many animals I didn’t want them coming into my yard. So we put up privacy fence. It’s a good thing because if you walk in the backyard now to the creek where our property meets the next, you would be afraid to step into that yard,” said Barbara Howell. “The crowning blow was trying to work in my yard on Saturday, the smell was so horrible, I almost threw up.”

Howell says she called the police about what wound up being a dead animal carcass right off the edge of her neighbors driveway.

Vestavia Hills City Manager Jeff Downes says private property laws have constrained the city’s response to previous   complaints about the property.

“Those complaints have varied from trash, litter, junk, some structural potential issues. There were some issues with a porch. There were issues with cars on the property. The city’s been aware of that. And as each complaint surfaced over the course of time, we responded based on our current ordinances,” said Downes. “There are many issues associated with that property that the property owner has been notified to clean up and to take care of and the property owner has not.”

According to Downes the city took the matter to the municipal court judge asking for authority to enter the property and resolve some of the complaints.

“Now recently there has been a complaint of a dead animal on the property and a few others that really reach the realm of a health and safety issue. So as we sit here today our police department has begun movement to resolve this dead animal complaint and as well begin work with the department of human resources to see if some of the other issues can be resolved,” said Downes.

Within an hour and a half of our interview with the next door neighbor, Mrs. Howell, she says she was relieved to see representatives from the City of Vestavia Hills, show up, march down the driveway and leave, taking the dead animal carcass with them.

“So hopefully, we’re going to get something done this time,” said Howell.

Our efforts to reach the homeowner on Monday were unsuccessful.

The Vestavia Hills City Manager tells us the city is also looking to strengthen local ordinances to allow them to resolve similar situations faster in the future.

“So bottom line we do care, we are aware of the problem and we’re trying to work within our current laws and the laws of the state of Alabama to resolve the situation,” said Downes. “Now some may complain and some may say that we’re not moving in a quick enough manner. We are constrained by these laws and we are working at least with our city ordinances to try to improve our ordinances to make them even more effective and more expeditious in our ability to resolve those complaints.”

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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