UPDATE: City Crews Begin Clearing Homeowner’s Yard In Five Points

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Grayson Street

City landscaping crews clear the right of way along Grayson Street near Pratt Avenue in the Five Points area. (Photo: Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – After a two-year battle, city landscaping crews are clearing a homeowner’s yard in Five Points.

The City of Huntsville declared James Hessler’s yard a public nuisance.  It sits at 1320 Pratt Avenue, at the corner of Grayson Street.  The yard is so overgrown, the house is barely visible.

Hessler has fought the city since 2012.  Both a Madison County judge and a state appeals court sided with the city, and earlier this month, the case Alabama Supreme Court declined to hear his case.

Wednesday, the city moved in to begin clearing the right of way on Pratt and then on Grayson.  Crews are using weedeaters, chain saws and a wood chipper.

Joy McKee, Director of Landscaping for the City of Huntsville, said crews intend to move further in on the property and keep working, possibly for the rest of the week.

WHNT News 19 has learned Hessler is seeking an injunction to stop the abatement, however, the city has the court order giving them the right to start clearing the property.

Kenneth Benion, Community Development Director, said the city will bill Hessler for the services. If Hessler cannot pay or refuses to pay, Benion said the city will put a lien on the property.

UPDATE – James Hessler e-mailed WHNT the following statement early Wednesday afternoon:

“It is a bad day for a city that claims to be green. I have been  punished for not wanting a turf lawn with splotches of seasonal color.  The city of Huntsville has destroyed thousands of dollars worth of  hardwood and ornamental trees, widely accepted groundcovers and hedge  plants. This process has stripped me of my personal privacy in my own  home.

They gave me two years notice of the pending rape, but I have been violated.”

James Hessler                                                                                                                           1320 Pratt Avenue



  • Say What

    This is an outrage! The gubermint intruding on a private citizen’s property rights!! Where is the tea party? They should be gathering on this man’s property with their guns on their hips like they did for that guy that refused to pay cattle grazing fees out West!

    • Peter

      @ SayWhat
      Sarcasm is the last resort of a weak mind as are insults.
      Just wait until your neighbors or the city take a dislike to some choice you have made concerning your land. That shoe could drop anytime “they” decide for you. Being glib about that possibility and the strength to stand up for your and others rights is juvenile. But hey enjoy the freedom to speak your mind. Someone gave their life for that right you use.

  • Peter

    Look, I am all for clearing the public right of way and easements but within the boundries of your owned and paid-for land you should be free to do as you choose. If you choose to sign away that right upon closing then that is all you baby. The possibility of damage or harm is NOT damage or harm to adjacent properties and until there is direct harm or damage this action is outrageous. An overgrowth may be an eyesore to many but I would prefer my neighbor to embrace nature over the self righteous, holier than thou, neighbors we have the privilage of living near in 5 points that feel they have the right to tell you if your grass is the wrong color or height and if your mail box is to old. God forbid if you actually have patio furniture on your “gasp” front porch or a kids sand box in your front yard.

    Hessler, I am sorry you are losing your little piece of nature to preserve the perceived rights of everyone else but you. Hopefully all the wildlife that has taken refuge in your sanctuary will make new homes in the crawlspaces and eaves of your neighbors dwellings.

    • A

      Except for the neighbors that have to put up with the rodents and roaches that dwell in their “nature”. That is the part of the damage his neighbors have to put up with. All for people’s rights but if you want to live like this, go live in the country, not a neighborhood!

      • Dr. VonKoupler

        Hum thats interesting. Only he lives on a corner with an alley behind and only one house shares a fence line with his property. That house is not much better except having a mowed lawn. As for your roaches and rodents…. they live where they want, even the cleanest manicured lawn on earth will have bugs and rodents. My house and yard is very well maintained but I live near the drainage system in the 5 points area and I fight rats and bugs non-stop. The city will not do a thing about that. Conformity requirements of the urban dweller be d@mned, trim the public access and let the guy live the way he wishes. If you can prove damages to adjacent properties then do so. This whole thing is garbage and I am not talking about just his yard. There are abandoned homes-businesses all over huntsville that are more of a problem than this guys yard. Of course there is someone to blame at this address so there is action taken. So much for pursuit of happiness unless you live in the county. Maybe if those of you complaining dont like it, why dont you move….likely he was here first.

    • Curtis Anthony

      So they way I see this is, had he (mr hessler) just put a little effort into weeding o simply a few flower beds he would have been able to keep most of what was growing freely in his yard. I live on monte sano on a corner lot and I have had the city cut a large bush down to the ground. I have since maintained the amount of growth preventing a future butchering. If he had put in half the effect to maintain his woods as he did fighting this, he might have his woods and not be looking at large bill and no woods! Just saying.

  • Sue von Kamp

    The city should have done this a long time ago. If he wants to live like that move to the jungle in S America.

  • Dane Parker

    Being visually familiar with this plot of land, I support the city government’s action in this regard. It is a perfectly legitimate use of municipal authority. One does not get to blast his or her stereo to the disregard of their neighbors on the basis that the stereo is situated on private property upon which the owner may do whatever he or she prefers. The same principle applies when the disturbance reverberates not in the form of sound waves but in reduced adjacent home and property values.

  • Bob

    I must agree with those supporting the city. I drive by this location daily and it is a total eyesore. Wouldn’t be so bad if the growth had been manicured and controlled, but it was left to grow wild. I agree, if he wants a yard like this, move to the jungle.

  • Nuclear Mike

    When the City cleared our backyard ROW they clear cut to the bare ground & used tree killer which removed every bit of vegatation that the neighbor & we had for privacy down to the bare wire fence…’they’ often do as they want when ‘they’ decide to focus on your property for the reasons they chose…

  • Mow My Yard!

    I bet those guys were pissed. They had to get all that equipment out and REALLY work for the day.

  • Gilley

    I am so glad that all the crimes have been solved and and the court system cleared from cases with drugs, child support, rapes, murders, assults…… all so we as a city government have time to focus on this mans yard…… D@MN I feel so much better and glad I built my home in this safe town and see my taxes are well spent…. ps this was all sarcasm for the stupid whom cannot figure it out!

    • i'mwithstupid

      It sure is ridiculous that the attention of a few city departments would be focused on this man’s yard instead of this evil and corrupt town. These landscape employees should be out arresting people and fighting the forces of evil! Oh, wait.

  • Jeremy Smith

    That place is an eyesore!!
    Trying to incorporate the “Green” defense in order to continue to be slovenly, is dispicable.
    Bravo Huntsville!
    Finally taking out the trash!

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