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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2007
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A neighbor has been mowing the front yard of the house at 1610 Dandridge Road S.W. The truck parked in the driveway has a 'no trespassing' sign on the dashboard. Neighbors complain that the unmowed backyard attracts rodents and other varmints.
Daily photo by John Godbey and Emily Saunders
A neighbor has been mowing the front yard of the house at 1610 Dandridge Road S.W. The truck parked in the driveway has a "no trespassing" sign on the dashboard. Neighbors complain that the unmowed backyard attracts rodents and other varmints.

Hiding in plain sight

Location: 1610 Dandridge Road S.W.

Description: Neighbors complained that the home is vacant and is used for storage. An old, rusted plumbing truck with a current license plate is parked in the driveway with a “no trespassing” sign in the window. Garden pots are stacked on shelves in the driveway and behind the truck. The shrubs in the front yard have grown to cover the entrance to the front porch, which also has junk covering it. Neighbors complain that because of the overgrown weeds and grass, especially in the backyard where there is also junk and garbage, possums and rats have been running into their yards. Neighbors said they have complained about the property since 2005, and one complainant has tried to get a weed abatement against the owner. One neighbor has been mowing the front yard to try to protect property values.

Property owner: According to records from the Morgan County revenue commissioner, the home is owned by Burl and Elizabeth McLemore, whom neighbors believe are now deceased. One complainant believes that the house now belongs to Charles McLemore, who was listed as a previous owner from county revenue records. The Daily was unable to contact Charles McLemore and his attorney said that he was unable to comment about his client’s case.

Ordinance: City ordinance requires the homeowner to maintain the property so as to not constitute a public nuisance. It also requires the owner to keep any inoperable vehicle, discarded household furnishings, scrap, or junk in an approved, enclosed, covered structure so that it is not viewable from any public right of way so as to prevent a health, safety, or fire hazard. Owners must also maintain weeds and other plant growth so as not to be injurious to the general public health, safety and general welfare because it serves as a breeding ground and shelter for rats, mice, snakes, mosquitoes and other vermin, insects, and pests. It is also against city code to allow plant growth to exceed 12 inches because it poses a potential fire hazard, especially in dry conditions.

Responsible officials: The house is in Councilman Ronny Russell’s District 4. Russell notified the Department of Community Development, the department in charge of issuing citations to property owners who fail to abide by the city ordinance.

David Lee, who is a code enforcement officer for the Department of Community Development, said the city is pursuing a case against Charles McLemore for the home’s condition. His case is set for July 10, and if an agreement about the property can’t be reached, a trial will be set. Lee said that at one time, the house was tied up in probate court. However, no case or estate under the names Elizabeth, Burl, or Charles McLemore could be found in probate records, a probate employee said. Lee says that the city is doing everything that can be done to resolve this problem property.

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. You can also contact the Community Development’s weed, junk and litter hot line at 341-4963.

- Tiffeny Hurtado

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