Aug 13, 2013 7:06 PM by Chris Welty
Blighted properties are becoming a growing eye sore in dozens of Lafayette Parish neighborhoods and it's an ongoing battle with the city to hold property owners accountable.
One house on Patton Street off North Washington is boarded up and the yard is overgrown. Neighbors say they report the issues, but sometimes it takes months before the properties are cleaned up.
The thick brush swallows a home in the 100 block of Patton Street. It has been vacant for years, a black eye for the neighborhood.
"It's a fire hazard and they have people that walk the railroad tracks looking for shelter. It's not safe, something needs to be done," said a concerned neighbor.
He says he has seen people breaking in. Although the house is boarded up, it's still a hazard.
"Somebody could come remove the boards and get access to the house or come sleep on the porch and set it on fire," said Alton Trahan, Public Information Officer for the Lafayette Fire Department.
The weeds are reaching the roof of the abandoned home.
Once notified, homeowners have 90 days to comply and fix violations. Randy Viator with Planning and Codes says it's a long process before homes can be condemned. "If it's condemned, we can demolish the house and have an empty lot, but we also put a lien on the property."
Viator says the challenge is getting families to take responsibility for inherited property. Less than a block away from the home on Patton Street live relatives responsible for maintenance. We asked them if they plan to take care of the yard and they say, "We ain't going out there. It's a big thing with that."
Once grass grows more than twelve inches, it can be reported to Lafayette's Department of Environmental Quality. Inspectors are sent out, but it could take several weeks before the yard is cleaned up.
Mark Pope with Lafayette Consolidated Government says they cut the grass at the home on Patton Street in early June. Pope says summer is the busiest time and it's difficult to keep up.
"We're not a lawn service, but we do understand the situation of a neighbor who has to live next to a blighted property. When things slow down and we get out of the summer months, we'll go back and look at those properties and try to be as proactive as we can," said Pope.
A work order has been filed for the home on Patton Street and we're told the city plans to get to it within the next few weeks.