A Hazel Green woman is fed up with unsightly abandoned homes dotting her neighborhood. She said they are a health hazard and an eyesore, and she wants to see her community cleaned up. After getting no answers from county officials, she contacted me.
Donna Mayes has lived in her Hazel Green neighborhood for over 25 years. Back when she and her family first moved into Hazelfield South, she said it was a lovely mobile home community. Today the story is different, and after a drive through the neighborhood, it's apparent why.
Mayes points out the problems with several properties: "This could have been a nice double-wide," she said of one home, "But you can see where it's all grown up. Kids have broken into it. It's pretty useless now."
"There is actually a trailer behind here," she said at another property. "There is a mobile home—it has the blue current sticker for county taxes—and you have someone right next door who is trying to take care of their grass."
It's the same story as you make your way through the small subdivision. Nicely maintained homes and landscaping are interspersed with abandoned homes surrounded by weeds, some at roof height. The view from Donna's back porch is that of an abandoned barn shrouded by weeds.
As you continue to drive through the area, you see junked cars that have clearly been out of commission for years. Donna said when they moved in a quarter century ago, there were rules residents had to abide by. They were common sense rules designed to preserve the beauty of the neighborhood, but Mayes said over the years, some of the original owners moved out, leaving homes abandoned and yards unattended. "I don't know why anyone would abandon the homes. They could have been fairly nice if they had been kept up," she said.
Donna has taken her concerns to county officials several times over the years. She said a few years ago, County Commissioner Roger Jones came out at her request to tour Hazelfield South and promised he would get back with her. She said she never heard anything else from him, nor received any guidance to help her clean up the neighborhood.
I put in a call to Commissioner Jones, and he acknowledged making a trip to the neighborhood and meeting with Mayes. He said that, unfortunately, because there is no home rule in the county, his hands are tied. Legally the county cannot go onto private property. He said the only exception is when there is something obstructing an intersection.
The following week, however, Donna called me back, reporting that after my call to Commissioner Jones, workers did come out and cleared away some of the weeds from several ditches on county land. "As I understand, three feet from the street is county property, and they came out and cut it a lot better than they normally do," Mayes said.
Although Donna is pleased with the work, she had hoped more could be done, as did we. We will keep working for Donna and the residents of Hazelfield South to see if we can continue to get that neighborhood spruced up.
I'll keep you updated on our progress.