Curry County commissioner’s efforts to address a nuisance property in Harbor earlier this month might have opened the floodgates for other citizens who have complained for years about dilapidated homes in their neighborhoods — but that the county couldn’t address.
A nuisance property is one deemed unsafe and unsanitary and could be a lure for children, squatters and others.
Less than a week after approving the abatement of such a house on Hamilton Lane, a second set of citizens filed a formal complaint about a house at 97904 West Benham Lane.
The Hamilton Lane home burned last October, and people have been living in its charred remains since. Neighbors complained about piles of trash, five-gallon buckets of human feces, comings and goings of people, a van that seemed to set up residence in the driveway recently, laundry drying on the line and alleged drug dealings there.
The county has no code enforcement officer — Wednesday, the board approved a job description for one — so county staff had to go to the Hamilton Lane house to inspect it and post notices. The process involved numerous trips, a search warrant and extensive efforts to find the owners.
The Benham Lane house has furniture — including a refrigerator — in the overgrown front yard, a dilapidated garage encased in blackberry vines, piles of trash, a tarp covering the roof and dead rats scattered throughout.
Neighbors have complained about the property for years, but without an ordinance in place, the county’s hands were tied.
“It’s been like that for at least five years,” neighbor Ronald Spencer told commissioners Wednesday. “We’ve been trying to get the bank to cooperate, but they pretend they don’t even know they own the property. The bank has managed to be so obscure, they can’t be sued.”
Curry County Attorney John Huttl agreed there will have to be a lot of research on the property to determine ownership.
“I recommend anyone who goes out there bring a M95 mask, gloves and boots,” said neighbor David Lee.
The county plans to let the owner of the house — believed to be a bank — tell commissioners at a March 7 meeting why the house is not a nuisance or, if it is deemed to be, how they intend to address it.
Reach Jane Stebbins at firstname.lastname@example.org .