Fighting For You: Homeowner Wants Abandoned Home Removed

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A Hartselle woman says the raccoons, snakes and other animals in her neighborhood are a little too close for comfort. She says overgrown lots and an abandoned home nearby are attracting them all. The woman called her city council representative and talked with neighbors, then called WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin when she couldn't get anything done.

Ola Mae Kilpatric has spent years dealing with strangers taking up space in the abandoned home and wild animals living across from her home. Kilpatric told WHNT NEWS 19 city crews clean the lots once a year, but do nothing with the abandoned home.

WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin took her concerns to the Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley. The mayor acknowledged the problems.

Kilpatric has called Hartselle home for years. She's watched her neighborhood grow in that time, but not the way it should.

"If they would get all these vines and stuff cleaned up it would not be so bad," said Kilpatric.

The Hartselle homeowner takes issue with an abandoned home and unattended lots near her doorstep.

"We were out here with our dog and a big old raccoon ran out from over there. He was almost bigger than my dog," added Kilpatric.

Kilpatric belies it all makes a neighborhood eyesore and puts her neighbors safety at risk.

"It seems like with it grown up like that, it will bring our property value down. Who would want to live down here with all that stuff grown up," stated Kilpatric.

Kilpatric says she has gone to the Hartselle city hall several times to talk with the city council and mayor. She says both often give the same response.

"It's going to be the same story.  We are going to send out letters to him to get him to clean it. When they clean it up, they are mostly just pushing it over," said Kilpatric.

Mayor Tankersley says he and city council members are aware of the concerns.

"We're working on that to resolve the situation as fast as we can as we do in all nuisance cases," said Mayor Tankersley.

The mayor wants Kilpaltric to understand things take time.Kilpatric took the time to walk WHNT NEWS 19's Venton Blandin over to the abandoned home.

"It looks like all the insulation is torn out of it. I don't think it is safe," said Kilpatric.

Hartselle's mayor says one man believes he owns the house. Mayor Tankersley says the man wants to tear down the house, but needs more proof.

"Our city attorney is working with the owner to determine who, by a clear chain of title, that actual property owner is before the house is torn down," added Mayor Tankersley.

The mayor is also working with the Superintendent of Morgan County Schools.

"From what we understand, apparently, we own some land in the city of Hartselle," said Superintendent Bill Hopkins.

City leaders think the county's school system owned the property back in the 1930s. Hartselle's school system broke away from Morgan County's system nearly four decades ago. No one can find a deed, but the superintendent was able to find something in the district's archives.

"There's also some clause in there that says that if it is not used for school-related business that it reverts back to the original owners," added Hopkins.

Mayor Tankersley believes the city and county school system will work things out. Superintendent Hopkins says plans to ask the school board to sell the property if it's proven to be his district's land.

Mayor Tankersley says, regarding the abandoned house, it will be several more weeks before the building is torn down.