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A concerned resident complained about the condition of the rear of The Decatur Daily, next to the new Dr. Bill Sims Bike Trail.  In less than 24 hours, Daily workers cut the grass and cleaned up the space, as can be seen in the photo below.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
A concerned resident complained about the condition of the rear of The Decatur Daily, next to the new Dr. Bill Sims Bike Trail. In less than 24 hours, Daily workers cut the grass and cleaned up the space.

In plain sight:
Daily spruces up

Most eyesores featured in series cleaned up, but a few remain

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

Most of the eyesores featured in The Daily's "Hiding in Plain Sight" series, like junk cars, high grass and a dumping ground for trash, have been cleaned up.

The Daily tracked 83 complaints of inoperable cars, run-down homes, high grass and other nuisances reported by residents since early April and published 18 "Hiding in plain sight" articles since then, pointing out the blight to the city and property owners.

Only a few of the eyesores featured in The Daily remain.

Decatur's Community Development Department, which enforces the city's weed, junk and litter ordinance, also alerted The Daily to blight behind the newspaper's office building.

After receiving a complaint from a concerned resident, David Lee, a city code-enforcement officer, photographed 15 damaged newspaper boxes, an old tire filled with water and weeds all within view of the Dr. Bill Sims Bike Trail under construction behind The Daily.

Less than 24 hours after learning of the nuisance, The Daily cut the grass, got rid of the tire and moved the damaged paper racks inside.

Lee said the city didn't issue The Daily a citation.

"Before a notice was prepared, the problem was resolved," Lee said. "Consequently there was no need to issue a written notice."

Those who haven't resolved issues with their property include the city; a local church; a homeowner, who went to jail this week; and a tenant, whom the city suspects was storing smoker grills for sale on his rental property.

  • The city owns drainage ditches near 14th Avenue Southwest, Freemont Drive and Puckett Avenue.

    Bob Hall has lived nearby since the 1960s. He called The Daily to report the problem after having tried unsuccessfully to have it resolved through Decatur Utilities, which isn't the proper city authority to address the matter.

    Hall said two retention ponds don't drain properly and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that force him from his backyard during the summer.

    "Councilman Ronny Russell brought the city engineer with him and they're worried about disturbing wetlands," Hall said. "These ponds are probably 10 feet above the drainage ditch. It wouldn't take a backhoe long to correct the problem."

    Russell said he's working with Mark Peterson, the city's director of engineering, to resolve the problem.

    Petersohn said his department has contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if there are environmental conditions that need to be addressed before resolving the problem.

    "Without their green light, there's nothing we can do," Petersohn said. "We can do some shaping and contouring to make the area drain, if we're allowed to do that."

  • Calvary Assembly has eight semi-trailers that it uses for storage parked on it's property at Mulligan Street Southwest. The trailers, which didn't have licenses, are parked within feet of Everett Waldrep's property and block his view from his front porch.

    Associate Pastor Tony Willis said May 1 the church would likely remove the trailers, but the trailers remain. The church has, however, cut the tall weeds that surrounded the trailers.

  • Gary A. Shelton of 917 Clearview St. S.W. surrendered to police Tuesday after missing his May 16 court date to face a charge that he violated the city's weed, junk and litter ordinance. The ordinance prohibits storing inoperable vehicles within plain view of a public right of way.

    Vehicles clog Shelton's front yard, and one neighbor said two homes for sale next to him have been on the market for at least a year. Another neighbor said Shelton's home is an eyesore that drives down property values.

    Shelton posted a $500 bond and was released. His court date was reset for July 18.

  • Kenneth Crutch has a collection of smoker grills stored in the backyard of his rental home at 1612 Fifth Ave. S.W. The city has photos taken before May 4 that show chalk-written price tags on them. The city has told him to remove the grills, but they remained on the property this week.

    Ronne Harvell, the city's revenue supervisor, said it appears Crutch was operating a business and that the city couldn't license such activity. The matter hasn't been brought before Municipal Court. Harvell said he would like to see the situation resolved before it reaches that point.

    Let us know if you're tired of seeing a dilapidated building, litter, a drainage problem or an eyesore in your neighborhood. Contact The Daily newsroom at 340-2433 or news@decaturdaily.com.

    Call the city's weed, junk and litter hot line to report possible violations: 341-4963.

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