EASTERN VALLEY, Ala. (WIAT) –- Neighbors in the Eastern Valley area of Jefferson County have reached out to CBS 42’s Your Voice Your Station hotline concerned about an abandoned home on their street.
When you travel down Cory Street, you find a property in the 900 block littered with all sorts of garbage and overgrown by weeds and tall grass.
Earnestine Wilson and Sylvia Fendley have seen the community evolve over the past 40 years.
“It’s been a rental property for several years. It has been vacant for the last couple of years, and it has just become a dumping site,” Wilson said. “It’s just a bad sight for people to see. It’s dangerous and I’m afraid what might be growing in here with all of these weeds and trash that has been dumped.”
There are garbage bags tied up by the curb, weathered shoes, smashed-out windows and the front door ajar makes it appear the home has been stripped of all valuables.
Fendley said she sent emails to the Jefferson County Commission expressing her concern in July.
“I’m ashamed for people – if I tell anybody to come to my house for them to pass by – this is the logical way for them to come,” Fendley said. “People moved out and nothing’s been done. It’s just like the grass just grows.”
Before Fendley reached out, Jefferson County had already issued a notice of violation to the property owner Tom Harmon, Jr.
After several attempts by CBS 42 Investigative Reporter Jen Cardone, she was able to contact Harmon. He left a voice message saying, “I rode by there today after I got your message. I have not been by that property lately and I’m embarrassed. The shape it’s in I’m ashamed the neighbors that have to live next to that…”
He goes on to explain personal issues with his family have kept him from working on the land. Harmon asked CBS 42 for 30 days to hire help to clean up the property.
“… Again, I apologize. I have no excuse,” Harmon said. “The circumstances are out of my control but that’s not their problem. That’s my fault. I do intend to take care of this as soon as I possibly can.”
If Harmon fails to clean up the property, a Jefferson County spokesperson said the county would eventually take over the property but it is a lengthy process.
For the county to take over and demolish this home – there must be a 60-day written notification to allow for an appeals/hearing. The property list then goes to the commission for approval and another property owner search before a second letter is mailed to the owner before a bid for demolition. Commissioners have the final say.
Homes are demolished in batches to be more cost-effective. The earliest this could happen is sometime next year.
Harmon could face fines of up to $200 per offense per day and 30 days in jail.