Dunham Avenue Homeowner Wants Property Around Vacant Home Cleaned

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Huntsville homeowner has watched a lot happen in his community over the last four decades. He's seen crews build homes, children grow up and neighbors come and go. William Draper is bothered by the last one.

He and his wife contacted WHNT News 19. Draper told the station his neighbor moved out a few years ago and the house next door is still vacant. The vacant house has been a pain in Draper's side a long time. Draper says he's cleaned the yard and cut the grass several times to keep his neighborhood looking good. The good neighbor is sick of doing the work. He wants the city to do something.

You could say the porch is Draper's perch. Draper has kept an eye on Dunham Avenue 42 years.

"This house over here has been vacant for about three years. No one has come by to cut the grass or do anything. So, I got tired of looking at it all grown up over there," said Draper.

Draper keeps his yard looking good, but...

"When I cut my grass, that over there still looked bad. I just started cutting that grass to keep it looking better," added Draper.

Every time the grass next door would reach a certain length, Draper would get it back down to a reasonable level. It was the best the 71-year-old could do.

"Now the back is gone. The back is messed up. I don't go to the back. There might be a snake back there. I don't want to get snake-bitten," added Draper.

Draper told WHNT News 19 cats, dogs and rabbits hang around the home. The homeowner says he's spent $100 in pest control for the vacant home.

"I heard bugs will leave any empty house and come to the next house. It's true. That is true," added Draper.

He wants the city of Huntsville to get involved.

"It bothers me for a house to be in a neighborhood like this and it's all grown up next door to me. It just looks really, really bad," added Draper.

WHNT News 19 checked with the city's Office of Community Development to see if the staff there knew about Draper's problem. The staff did know of the problem.

An enforcement officer there told WHNT News 19 me a staff member put an outstanding grass notice on the vacant home. The deadline on the notice is October 7, 2013.

"It's a mess. It is nothing, but a mess. It is a mess. You can see that yourself. It is nothing but a mess. This needs to be cleaned up. Someone needs to clean it up," added Draper.

Draper has to live with that mess for a little longer. The enforcement officer told WHNT News 19 a clean-up crew from the city will take care of the yard and send the bill to the homeowner if the mess is there after October 7th.

Many of you have called WHNT News 19 about this same type of problem - an overgrown yard next door to yours.  Rules on enforcement on abandoned homes, overgrown property, neglected lots and similar issues vary from city to city. Most counties don't have a rule in place.

Find out who to call to report your problem to in most cities by clicking here: Code Enforcement

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