LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Imagine a house in your neighborhood is gutted by fire, and five years later it still looks the same as it did the day of the blaze. That’s the situation facing residents of one Limestone County subdivision. The home is located in the Raby Subdivision in West Limestone County. Neighbors say after the house burned about five years ago, the owners just walked away. Now residents are expressing concerns about the property. WHNT News 19’s Al Whitaker is taking action to address those concerns.
It was probably a nice house at one time but today neighbors say it’s just an eyesore. The windows are busted out, the roof is falling in, the yard is overgrown and some say it’s a dangerous place.
“We have lots of kids out there in the neighborhood, you know. We don’t want someone playing in there and getting hurt and the grass has grown up, no telling what’s inside of it,” Raby Subdivision resident Cindy Turner tells WHNT News 19.
Turner says they didn’t know where else to turn, so they asked us to take action to see if anything could be done about the house. We contacted Limestone County Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee. He says he’ll ask the health department to check and determine if the house is indeed a health hazard for the neighborhood.
“So, they would need to look at that and evaluate as to whether or not its a health hazard to the community. If it is, we can normally make the property owners do something on that right there, too,” Menefee says. If it is declared to be a health hazard, Menefee says the property owner can be forced to clean it up. He says he’ll let us know what the health department finds.
FOOTNOTE: Mr. Menefee tells us the county is unable to pass local legislation that would prevent problems like what Mrs. Tucker and her neighbors are experiencing. He says it’s a matter of what’s called “Home Rule.” Whereas Alabama’s municipal (city and town) governments can pass ordinances related to this or other issues, county governments are expressly forbidden from doing so in Alabama. Mrs. Tucker had asked why the county didn’t have laws regulating unkept houses and properties, Menefee says that’s the reason. Mrs. Tucker vows to have a conversation with her state representatives in support of such legislation. Also, Menefee suggests Mrs. Tucker check her deed for possible restrictions imposed in the subdivision. If there are restrictions regarding unkept or abandoned houses, that would also enable residents to force the owner to clean the property up.