BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is on record as saying eliminating overgrown lots and dilapidated houses across the city is a priority. However, that pledge is being tested as one resident claims distressed properties in his neighborhood have gone without attention for months.
“If you going to own the lot, cut the grass,” resident Albert Hardy said.
Hardy has lived in the Roosevelt City neighborhood for almost 30 years. He remembers a time when all of his neighbors took care of their yards, but those days are long gone. He said he has repeatedly asked the city for help, but his complaints have fallen on deaf ears.
”I called environmental folks the other day and they give you a case number,” Hardy said. “I call the city. They give you a case number. Won’t nobody come out here and do nothing.”
Artemus Willis, deputy director of planning, engineering and permits for the city of Birmingham, said the city gets 400 complaints every month. Currently, there are 6,600 cases in the system.
Willis said taking care of problem properties is not a simple process.
”A lot of people think we can just go on property and cut it right away but it’s law that we have to follow and a process we have to follow,” Willis said. “We have to get approval from city council to go onto a property to abate it.”
Willis said that ultimately, ongoing issues are due to inaction on the part of the property owner.
”We are doing everything we can to have the property owner to abate their own property because it’s their responsibility to abate their property and maintain their property,” he said.
For Hardy, his patience has worn thin and is simply looking for some relief.
“You’d be aggravated if you stay next door to something like that too,” Hardy said. “You wouldn’t want something like that around your house, would you? No? Okay. I don’t want it around mine.”
The city of Birmingham did confirm that the properties Hardy reported have been inspected and are set to go before the council to get approval to hire a private contractor to clean up the properties at the expense of the homeowner. However, no timeline was given as to how long that should take.