MONROVIA, Ala. (WHNT) – Shane Hall lives just at the entrance to Monrovia Meadows subdivision on Round Top Drive. Hall says he has seen the property directly across the street go from an empty lot, to a newly constructed home in 2005, to a foreclosed house he says hasn’t been touched in 2 years. That’s also how long Hall has been trying deal with what he says has become a public nuisance.
“I look at this house and there are birds that fly in and out of the eaves upstairs. This just totally attracts rodents and snakes; this grass hasn’t been cut in months. This is horrible here,” says Hall. “It’s a nuisance and an eyesore.”
Since the home was foreclosed and the former owner moved to Denver in 2011, Hall says he has taken several avenues to resolve the issue. Then Madison County District 4 Commissioner Dale Strong referred Hall to then-county administrator Howard Bates who told Hall the county had no legal authority to intervene on private property overgrowth. He also contacted the Alabama Department of Public Health to no avail, he says – even reaching out to realtors at Keller Hall Realty and mortgage lenders JPMorgan Chase & Co. – again, with no results.
“Somebody owns this house and somebody needs to come out here and take care of this mess because it’s distracting from the aesthetics of this neighborhood and it’s dropping the property values of other homes in this neighborhood,” says a frustrated Hall.
Hall finds it hard to believe the county has no authority here.
The Madison County junk ordinance reads in part: It shall be unlawful and constitute a public nuisance for the owner, lessee, or person in control of any parcel of land within the incorporated area of Madison County to fail to keep the parcel free from garbage, hazardous wastes, junk, litter, rubbish, one or more inoperable vehicles or one or more vehicles which do not have a current license tag, inoperable or unused appliances, household furniture, used motor vehicle tires, any materials within which water may accumulate or which may shelter or encourage the growth of insects, rodents, snakes, or materials which generate obnoxious odors, or which offend the aesthetics of the community and, thereby, cause a substantial diminution in the value of other property of which threaten the health or safety of any citizen.
The ordinance goes on to stipulate anyone in violation will be fined no more than $150 for each day the violation continues up to $5,000.
“I’m asking the county to enforce the ordinance – that’s all,” states Hall. “What do you do?”
Well, you call WHNT News 19 to take action. We hooked Hall up with district 4 commissioner Phil Vandiver Friday morning. Vandiver, however, echoed the sentiments Hall received from the previous administration.
“It’s not a lack of desire on the county commission’s part to do this – we do want to help,” Vandiver says, “It’s a lack of ability, it’s a lack of the ordinances, it’s a lack of resolutions, there’s a lack of state law that allows us to do anything with grass issues or things like that.”
Vandiver explains State Representative Jim Patterson even sponsored legislation in 2013 to try to give counties more power over issues just like this one – but he says the legislature didn’t adopt the measure.
While Vandiver maintained his hands are tied, after bringing the issue to his attention he did reach out to property’s lending bank to find who is responsible.
“I looked up the phone number to JP Morgan, found the real estate division and when they call me back and give me the next department we’re going to make that contact and we’re going to try to get to the right person to say hey – you’ve got a piece of property down here in Huntsville, Alabama you need to look at and see if you can’t improve it a little bit.”
The request may not garner immediate results, but it’s at least a step in the right direction for Shane Hall.