Neighbor's Trash Causing Major Headache

August 18, 2006 - Posted at 5:07 p.m. CDT

SENATH, MO -- Neighborly neglect...a Region 8 resident experiencing a number of problems all because her neighbors aren't maintaining their yards.

The saying 'it's a jungle out there' really takes on a serious meaning for the residents of one neighborhood in Senath, Missouri.

"We have had rats in the backyard, it is unsanitary it is nasty, it's trashy, we've got weeds got abandoned dogs next door and I just want it safe for the kids," said daycare owner Linda McKinney.

McKinney owns a daycare that backs up to the property. She is forced to keep her children indoors because of the unsafe environment. She has reported the problem to the city and believes the city has done little to fix the problem.

"They've done nothing.  They just go and talk to them and tell them to clean it up and obviously you can see it isn't being cleaned up," said McKinney.

Unlike most towns where code enforcement can write tickets on the spot for violations, Senath has to talk to residents about the mess before they can take any action.

"I send them a letter to meet in front of board and alderman and then if the board sees fit they allow me to write them a ticket," said Senath Police Chief Lester Hunter.

According to Chief Hunter, he spoke with the Sue Cornell, the owner of the property on Monday and planned to send her letter out on Friday. He says the neglect on this property isn't a one time occurrence.

"Just about all the time, just about all the time," said Hunter.

We made several attempts ourselves to locate Ms. Cornell but were unable to contact her. A problem the police chief and McKinney both have had.

"The landlady doesn't care. She won't return my calls, I have called everyday this week five times a day," complained McKinney.

McKinney as been dealing with this problem since she moved in several years ago and after reporting it with the city and that state, the state actually said her best bet was to go to the news and hope something got done then.

"Well they told me now to take it to the news and see what can be done maybe they are just tired of me calling," said McKinney.

The chief did mention the city has looked at changing the process to allow him to write tickets on the spot.

McKinney isn't the only neighbor that has made complaints to the city. Several other properties containing old mattresses and appliances have also been reported as possible hazards.