Ledger Inquirer: Burned-out house an easy fix ... but not the dangerous dead tree

December 2, 2012 

This week's Inquirer is brought to you by the fact that I didn't win that Powerball drawing last week.

"Oh, come on, Mike. Surely you'd give two weeks' notice," you say?

Well, of course I'd give two weeks' notice. I'd say, "For the next two weeks, you'll notice my butt ain't here."

That said -- and TOTALLY in jest, boss -- we will address the plight of an elderly couple who live in the Rose Hill area (unless they won the Powerball).

A nice but anonymous lady called to report a problem at a nearby house.

The two-story house at 1309 Rose Hill St. burned a couple of years ago and has been uninhabitable … unless you count the vagrants who hang out there and apparently steal things such as lawnmowers and tools from nearby homes.

I rode over to look at the place and found a wreck. It was so bad, the city has already condemned it and sprayed the Big Red D on the front. That was about two months ago, my caller told me.

I told her I'd check with Rebecca Wiggins, city building inspector, to see when it might be coming down, but she told me there was another pressing problem. There is a large tree that apparently was killed by the heat when the house burned. It's hanging over not only the burned house, but the property next door and is dropping sizeable limbs on both.

So I had two questions for Rebecca. Any idea when it's coming down? And will the tree come down with it?

Wiggins said she remembered inspecting that house and condemning it, and assured me it would be in the next wave of buildings to be turned over to the wreckers. The bad news is that might not happen until March. The good news is either the owner or property manager told her that they were planning on tearing it down themselves.

The other bad news, unless you're a lawyer, is that the tree is on private property, so the city doesn't handle that.

"That's a civil matter between the neighbors and the property owner," Wiggins said.

The problem with that is that my caller and her husband are elderly and on a fixed income and likely can't afford an attorney. But if there's a lawyer who would like to do a little pro bono work for some nice people in need, I can put you in contact with them.

Update

I got an email from a friend and business associate of the owners of the house we featured last week, the one with the private landfill growing in the front yard.

"The owners of this property were embarrassed that they were in the paper and asked me to respond for them since I know all the details of this property," the email began.

He had quite a story to tell.

The owners bought the house about five years ago and have had a heck of a time keeping it rented, in spite of putting thousands of dollars into sprucing it up. Twice, while the house was vacant, thieves broke in and stole all the appliances and ripped out the copper. Twice.

"Where were these complaining neighbors when thugs were dragging a fridge and other stuff down the road? It would have been nice if they called the police then," he wrote.

The good news is that the property has been cleaned up and the house is under contract with a church to use in one of its ministries, he reports.

"On a lighter note," my correspondent wrote. "The camera that took the picture of the house you put in the paper must have been a cheapo. It is NOT purple. It is blue-gray!"

Whatever you call the color, I still hope they got that paint on sale.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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