Kennett to clear out 52 condemned properties

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - The Kennett city council is working to clear several blighted areas within the city.

Kennett mayor Jake Crafton said the council is working with city attorney Terry McVey to start the process of notifying property owners and legally condemning the properties.

"Currently we have about 52 properties that we have on file that's mainly neglected, dilapidated properties," Mayor Crafton said.

Charles Bible said blight surrounds his house on North Vandeventer Street. He is mainly concerned about the house next door at 705 North Vandeventer. Bible said it has been vacant for a few years.

"This is just being neglected and ain't nobody doing nothing about it, and I've contacted the code enforcer several times about it, and they tried to do things about it, but it just ain't happening."

Mayor Crafton said the house next to Bible's, along with 51 others, is on his list of condemned or dilapidated houses the city is working to get rid of. Code enforcement officer Victor Mode said part of what delays the process is jumping over the legal hurdles that come with clearing the properties, like finding owners.

"If we've got a local owner, it's fairly quick, but we've got a lot of owners that are out of town, out of state."

Once an owner is located, Mode said getting them to take responsibility by bringing the houses up to code or tearing them down is also difficult.

Danny Bullock owns three houses located at 904 Whitney Street and 905 Frisco Street that are condemned. He said is in the process of getting the house at the front of the lot remodeled, and the back two that were destroyed in a fire a couple of weeks ago torn down.

"I got a letter saying I had to do something with them in 30 days," Bullock said."I started calling contractors. I've got three bids and they're supposedly going to start on the back two this weekend."

Bullock said he is hesitant to begin work on his property because of the lack of security for vacant homes. "We understand they need to be torn down. We also understand that when people strip out and burn stuff like that something (has) got to be done in the town other than (by) just the people that own the houses. There's going to have to be something going on for a little more protection."

Tearing down unclaimed houses costs the city $3,000 to $5,000, according to Mayor Crafton.  The city will use income from rented farm land to absorb some of the cost.  Bible hopes the mayor's plan to clean up the city happens before the house next door becomes home to some unwanted guests.

"I'd like to see it cleaned up or have someone take care of it to where it's not creating a hazard with rodents and termites and ants."

Mayor Crafton said after the houses are torn down, he is considering giving residents who live near the vacant lots the opportunity to maintain the land and take over the property taxes.

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