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The front porch of a rental property of former Hartselle Mayor Samie Wiley near Alabama 36 and Mount Tabor Road.
Daily photo by Deangelo McDaniel
The front porch of a rental property of former Hartselle Mayor Samie Wiley near Alabama 36 and Mount Tabor Road.

Ex-Hartselle mayor: 'I'm not a slumlord'
Mount Tabor residents say unkempt property hurts home values

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A former Hartselle mayor who is now a City Council member is denying allegations that he does not keep up his rental property.

But people who live near rental property that Samie Wiley owns near Alabama 36 and Mount Tabor Road disagree.

Claiming they were unable to get Wiley to clean up what they call a "mess," neighbors called The Daily. They alleged that Wiley's property lowers their property values and makes it difficult to sell homes in the area.

"I'm not a slumlord," Wiley said. "I've had a council member (Councilman Bill Drake) call me that in chambers, but it doesn't bother me." Drake made the comment in a joking manner.

Wiley denies homeowners' claims that they called him about his property.

"No one has talked with me about the situation, but I am doing something about it," he said.

Wiley said his insurance provider had looked at the Mount Tabor property and had advised him that he had to clean up two of the sites or he would not continue insurance.

He said he didn't give the renters a timeframe, but he told them they had to "straighten up."

"I will go back and make sure they know they have to clean up immediately," Wiley said.

The home at 883 Alabama 36 has a sign that reads: "Happiness grows in a garden."

While there is no garden on the property, grass is almost 2 feet high. The lot has a dilapidated shed, and a couch and exercise bike with weeds growing around them. A rusting windmill and swing are on the front lawn.

A man called The Daily claiming to be the home's renter. He would not give his name. He said he usually burns non-hazardous items in the yard, but can't because the county is under a no-burn order. The man said he would clean up the blight by the weekend. He said the County Commission should have cleanup days more than once per year, so county residents can get rid of unwanted items like the couch and pillow sponge in the yard.

The house next door has a cut lawn. But, the mailbox is lying across the front porch and a wagon holds what appears to be used construction material.

The third home, which is at Alabama 36 and Mount Tabor Road, has a grill on the front lawn, an open storage container and the screen door halfway off the hinges.

All of the homes have fairly new shingled roofs and are covered with yellow vinyl siding.

Morgan County revenue commissioner's office lists the condition of two of the homes as "poor" and with a total assessed value for both homes at $12,800. The land is valued at $12,200.

The condition of the third home is listed as "fair" with an estimated value of $31,100.

If these houses were in the city limits where Wiley is a council member, at least two of them would violate Hartselle's ordinance relating to weeds and junk.

"I'm going to see that they get cleaned," Wiley said.

No county rules

The Morgan County Commission does not have any rules against how the properties look, Chairman John Glasscock said.

"Whether that changes or not, I don't know," he said.

Glasscock said not having rules that govern how property looks in the county is good and bad.

"If you want to do what you want, it's good," he said. "If somebody builds a chicken house next to you, it's bad."

According to revenue records, Wiley owns nine properties with his wife or brother.

Seven of the properties, including his home, are inside Hartselle's city limits. On June 1, Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development warned Wiley and his brother, Billy, about property they own in the 900 block of Bethel Road.

"It is the responsibility of any lot owner or occupant to, at all times, keep weeds, grass and vegetation cut within 12 inches of the ground," Johnson said in the letter.

Failure to comply with the city's ordinance could result in a $500-per-day fine. City records show that the lot was cleaned shortly after Hartselle mailed the notice.

Wiley said he is evicting the Bethel Road renters because "they don't take care of the property." There are also inoperable vehicles on the lot.

"I have turned this over to an attorney," Wiley said.

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