Inquirer: Vacant Hilton Heights home falling into disrepair

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 12, 2014 

I got a voicemail from a Concerned Reader named Helen asking if I'd look into a house at the corner of Country Club Road and Meadowview Drive.

Apparently the house has been vacant for some time and it is showing. I don't know why vacant houses seem to fall apart faster than occupied homes, but they do. And this one certainly is a good example of that.

The grounds aren't in terrible shape, at least not by the standards of properties I usually visit. But in a nice 'hood like Hilton Heights, well, it does stand out. By the standards of the city's property ordinances, these grounds don't appear to violate anything. But that might be because it's winter and nothing's growing.

The house has sheets of black plastic in several places on the roof, which is an improvement over the blue tarps that used to be up there, a neighbor told me. Blue tarps give a neighborhood a distinct post-Hurricane Katrina ambiance.

"It's falling more and more into disrepair," Helen said. "Before spring time comes and all the vegetation comes, I was hoping you would check into it."

OK.

I called Greg Coates, director of Inspection and Codes for the city, and asked him if anyone had reported the house to his folks. It turns out someone had contacted Inspection and Codes about the property last summer and they sent an inspector out. The house had apparently been vacant for two or three years. The inspector issued what is called a "housing report," but it appears no action has been taken on the house.

The rules say if in the inspector's opinion it will take more than half of the house's assessed value to bring it up to code, it gets condemned. Considering that the city's tax assessor's website lists the value of this property at about $180,000, I doubt it's a candidate for demolition. As always, I'm no expert, but I would think $90,000 would buy you a lot of repair work.

Anyway, Coates said he will send someone out to have another look at the house.

"We're going to follow up on this and get this issue resolved," he said.

Stay tuned, Helen, and the rest of y'all.

Update

Last week we looked into an overgrown property on Tillinghurst Road, which is off Morris Road near Forrest Road. It's an apparently vacant house that has tall weeds in the front and side yards and a great big dead pine tree lying in the front yard.

The city's Special Enforcement sent an officer over to inspect the property last week and he called to report that he would send a letter to the property owner telling him to either cut the weeds or the city would and send him the bill.

As for the tree, as I'd suspected, it had fallen on its own, so there's no city ordinance that says the owner has to clean it up.

Win some, lose some.

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

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