Nuisance:County, community trying to find ways to handle both sides of abandoned property issues
When someone does not mow their grass or allows items to pile up in a yard over time, most neighbors tend to become upset. So much so they will report the problems to local officials. In most counties once you get outside a city limit, there are very few ways to help keep an eyesore from getting worse.
For one family on Winchester Road, the problem has been going on for about five years and now they are asking the state for help.
Wilgus and Darlene Profitt live in a nice and humble white house on Highway 15. The yard is mowed; the chain link fence is the only thing that separates their yard from what they call a nightmare next door.
“It has been like this for about five years,” Darlene Profitt said as she looked toward the property next door. The lot has two run down trailers on it. One has been stripped of just about everything except the frame. The other has broken windows, doors open and a garage where some items can be seen piled up. The grass is knee high in some areas.
“We’ve seen rats over there and had to put out Decon ourselves to keep them from coming into our yard,” she said. “It’s a mess and is just hard to look at everyday.”
How bad is it? Profitt said that her roof sustained hail damage in the March 2 storms that raked the area and she had to have her home insurance adjusters come out. “They told us they couldn’t help and was going to cancel our policy because of the mess there,” she said. “We had to show him that it was not our property and we can’t do anything about it.” They got to keep their insurance and get the roof repaired she said.
Profitt said she had spoken to Powell County Judge Executive James Anderson and Solid Waste Coordinator Kenny Case about the problem. “We’ve even spoke to the health department, but no one seems to be able to do anything,” she said.
“It’s a bad situation, but I’m not sure if we have an ordinance to deal with it like the cities do,” Anderson told the Times. “We don’t have county zoning and I wouldn’t feel right telling you what you could and could not do with your property. But we will continue to look into it to see what can be done.”
Both Clay City and Stanton have nuisance ordinances in place that helps to combat situations like this. In fact, Clay City usually has two or three a month at their meetings they discuss and have even taken legal action against a few. The idea is to make property owners responsible for the upkeep of the property.
“I believe we do have a nuisance ordinance in the county, I’m not sure if it is like the one the cities have, I’ll look into that. But if there appears to be a threat like vermin running around or some health issue it could fall under that ordinance,” Powell County Attorney Robert King said. “I believe they (neighbors) could come into the office and file a complaint and we can bring the owners in based on the nuisance ordinance. In fact it doesn’t even have to be a neighbor. Anyone can see an eye sore and complain; of course we would have to look into the complaint.”
That would mean that the county could have a more active roll in helping to make sure areas that get out of control can be cleaned up. It also means a lot more work for the county officials.
Profitt said that the neighbors abandoned the property. “At one time the place was immaculate,” she said. “It was always mowed and taken care of, there were nice flowers there and they took care of it. But after the woman left, I think it was their kids that sort of let the place get into this shape. I offered to buy it for a $1,000.”
“We contacted a Richard Thomas at the state environmental agency and he contacted them about cleaning it up,” Profitt said. “But they cut a little away from the front, took a few items away and that’s it. He said he would be back to have them clean it up.”
Meanwhile, the Profitts are hoping that something can be done.
Profitt said she had heard that the property may have been turned over to a bank after one of the listed owners passed way several years ago.
However, according to public records at the Powell County PVA Office the property is not owned by a bank, but belongs to residents of the area. The Times learned that it was in the name of Arnold and Nora Angel. Arnold Angel passed away a few years ago.
“I just found out about a month and a half ago that I owned it,” Nora White, formerly Angel, told the Times on Monday morning. “When he (Arnold) and I divorced about six years ago I thought he was going to change the deed, but he didn’t. So when he died apparently I am listed as the owner because of a survivorship deed, that’s what Robert King told me.”
White said she is trying to make amends and clean up the property. “I have had the deed fixed and I have contacted the electric company about moving the pole, since it is right in the middle, so it won’t disrupt the neighbor’s electric service,” White, who said her husband now is battling cancer, said. “I have contacted the water company about turning the water on temporarily so I can have a controlled burn to clean it up. I’m trying my best to clean it up, but I have a lot going on and I didn’t even know it was mine until about a month ago. They (the Profitts) are just not giving me enough time.”
White said that she thinks the Profitts are upset because she would not sell them the property for $1,000. “She made that offer and the property is worth more than that,” White added. “They are not giving me a chance to clean it up, I just found out it was mine and I couldn’t do anything as long as a bank has a lien on it. But we are working on it now. I just want to tell my side of the story. I’m doing everything I can.”
“It’s been five years of looking at it, smelling it and putting up with it,” Darlene Profitt added. “I honestly believe it is affecting our health having to breathe it in. We just hope something can be done to make it better.”