People call for vacant homes in Kennett to vanish - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

People call for vacant homes in Kennett to vanish

KENNETT, MO (KFVS) - Vacant and condemned houses have people in Kennett talking. With more than four dozen, people say that's just too many. Some meet city codes, others don't.

"It's really offensive to the rest of the community," said Jacqueline Smith. "We have to have to deal with these houses even if they are boarded up who wants to look at that every day."

Jacqueline Smith is among residents asking the city council to review ordinances regarding empty houses. Right now vacant homes must have a covered window and roof. Grass must be less than ten inches high.

"If you look up and down my street right now of 20 houses 8 are empty," said Smith.

Smith says even the houses that meet code cause problems. She worries about unwanted people and animals and a decline in property values.

SMITH SAYS EVEN THE HOUSES THAT MEET CODE CAUSE PROBLEMS ... SHE WORRIES ABOUT UNWANTED PEOPLE AND ANIMALS ... AND A DECLINE IN PROPERTY VALUES

"There's trespassing. We have seen behavior we believe to be drugs," said Smith.

Stuart Squares owns two vacant homes. Squares says his homes would pass inspection and most owners are like himself. He says the ordinances in place are strict enough in this tough economy.

"This has happened to use we go on vacation we come back and have a notice on the door the lawn isn't mowed," said Squares.

City officials say they realize there are many sides to this story. They say many of the houses are victims of the economy.

"When the city steps in it's as a last resort," said Fire Chief John Mallott. "It takes tax payer dollars to remove the property."

Fire Chief John Mallott is in charge of enforcing those codes. He says they removed several houses last year and plan do to the same this year. He acknowledges some of the properties in the most severe shape could be dangerous and he says they are trying to take care of those first.

"We went to one home now in the hands of the USDA. We found meth products. We saw snakes and other animals."

Mallott says they are looking for a solution.

"We are kind of in the middle looking for what's fair," said Mallott. "We're trying to do what's best to keep Kennett clean and keep property values up."

Mallott says public hearings are planned to discuss the most severe properties.

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