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Hartselle gives man deadline to improve home

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A Hartselle man has 30 days to purchase a city permit and start cleaning up his home or risk having it demolished by the City Council.

A unanimous council Tuesday night modified an abatement notice from Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development mailed to Ronald Hammon on April 11.

Hammon has 30 days to start improvements at his home at 802 Rhodes St. and up to 120 days to complete the repairs. He must immediately start to remove or rehabilitate what the council called a dilapidated aboveground swimming pool.

"We need to see something done immediately," Council President Kenny Thompson said.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley said he received a complaint about the condition of Hammon's home and asked Johnson to investigate the matter.

Johnson said he notified Hammon in November 2003 that his home did not comply with city codes and that it was a safety and health hazard. He showed the council a series of pictures of the home from 2003 and 2007.

"As you can see, very little has changed," Johnson said.

Hammon appealed Johnson's abatement to the council, but he did not attend the hearing Tuesday night.

In his appeal letter, Hammon said he was "quite surprised" when he received the abatement notice. He said the home has been his primary residence for 30 years. Hammon said his home is "sound as a dollar" and one of the best-built structures in Hartselle.

The homeowner admits that his house has exposed weathered wood sheathing.

"It might not look pretty, but it is not unsafe, unhealthy, dilapidated or obsolescent," Hammon wrote. "The house has no termites, no roaches, no mice, no fleas or any other source of infestation except for an occasional errant squirrel in the attic."

Johnson said he doesn't want the city to destroy Hammon's home. His initial proposal was to give Hammon 120 days to improve the situation.

"I don't see any reason to give him 120 days," Thompson said. "He's already had four years to do something. We need to see something immediately."

If the homeowner does not make improvements in 120 days, Johnson said he would return to the council with a resolution authorizing Hartselle to abate the nuisance.

"This is not the first time the property owner has received notice from the city of the unsightly condition," Johnson said. "This is considered a nuisance under out nuisance definition."

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