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Daily photo by Ronnie Thomas
Somerville Mayor Ray Long at the Cain Road property owned and leased by former Somerville resident Don Mikell. The town is leasing the property and will burn down the house.

Somerville to clean property leased by owner

By Ronnie Thomas · 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — Somerville Mayor Ray Long said most residents are proud of the community and are willing to clean up their properties.

For anyone with a stubborn streak, the town has a December 1984 upgrade of its junk ordinance that basically added overgrowth and weeds. Still, Long said, the town’s approach is to work with residents at every turn and to be as diplomatic as possible.

Long believes that approach paid off for the town and property owner Don Mikell, a former resident who lives in Huntsville.

“He grew up here and the old homeplace got rundown and grown up,” Long said. “It’s an acre, and because of its location in the middle of town on Cain Road, we decided the town could utilize it.”

Long said Mikell signed a three-year lease to the property for $1. The mayor calls it a win-win situation. The volunteer fire department will burn down the house in a practice burn and the town will pay between $500 and $700 to bulldoze it and clear it.

“We will probably use the lot for parking and perhaps even have a concert there, similar to what we do at the courthouse,” Long said. “We won’t disturb the trees, and we’ll still have ample space. In return, in three years, we will re-release a clean piece of property to Mikell, if that is his wish.”

Several people telephoned The Daily about the property and another — the old post office. They said both were candidates for the newspaper’s Hiding in Plain Sight feature.

Long said no one should misconstrue the action as a painless, cheap way the town will use for every piece of property that’s an eyesore.

“This is an acre we can utilize,” he said. “We can’t do this at every turn.”

And Mikell is an example. He also owns one-half acre beside the senior center, where overgrowth hides an old post office building.

“He knows he’ll have to take care of that,” Long said.

Hiding in plain sight

Let us know if you’re tired of seeing a dilapidated building, litter, a drainage problem or an eyesore in your neighborhood. Contact Community Development’s weed, junk and litter hot line at 341-4963. You can also contact the Daily newsroom at 340-2433 or

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