Jennings vacant home problem costing city over $100,000

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by Mike Colombo / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 18 at 10:44 PM

JENNINGS, Mo (KMOV) -- Last week News 4’s Mike Colombo showed viewers a Jennings property where the grass and weeds were so high he couldn’t be seen while standing on the lawn.

The City of Jennings promised to take care of the problem and they did; even though it really wasn’t their responsibility. News 4 found out why it’s not, but solving this issue is easier said than done.

“I have seen wild dogs in here, dogs walking around, last night I was in my back yard and I seen something crawling and it was a snake.”

Floyd Ramey’s neighbor’s yard had a zoo-like feel. The home has been vacant since a January foreclosure. How the property was able deteriorate so thoroughly disgusted city officials.

“It’s pitiful. I know it is,” said Public Works Director Bob Sidwell.

But Jennings officials will tell you it’s the banks who are pitiful for owning many of these properties through foreclosure and allowing them to get in this state.

“Sometimes when you find the bank and get in contact with them, they don’t necessarily do what needs to be done to the properties,” said Deputy Building Commissioner Robert Bailey. “Some of them have maintenance properties that will take care of them. All they’ll do is come out and cut the grass, then they’ll move on to the next properties because they also have a lot of properties.”

But when properties go neglected, neighbors call the city, not the banks. And just like this lawn, cities often clear the problem yard, at a cost to taxpayers. Last year Jennings spent $150,000 on such work.

The City of Jennings has filed liens on banks who weren’t holding up their end of the bargain. But last year, Jennings reports only recovering roughly $50,000 of that $150,000 it spent on maintenance of vacant properties.

 

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