BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Debris Committee heard updates on properties for which the county has received complaints because of what Building Official Tim Tweed determined to be violations of the county's health and safety code.
In order for the county to formally request cleanup, the property must pose a health or safety hazard due to causes such as a burned-out or badly dilapidated structure, piled debris, overgrowth or other such conditions.
If the property-owner does not respond to requests or make efforts to clean the property after a delayed period, the county may step in and hire someone to do the cleanup at the property owners' expense.
Tweed indicated considerable concern surrounding the safety of a property located at 170 Ed Shipley Lane. The property is co-owned by Gary Wills and Paul Kyger, but currently has a tenant or lease-to-own agreement for a family that is in residence, Tweed said.
Although Tweed noted considerable improvements having been made to the outside of the structure, the property also had considerable work remaining, he said.
"It's living conditions inside that's a concern," he said. Tweed noted issues surrounding electricity, water, sewage and general "unsafe conditions."
The building official said he first went to the property on a complaint concerning the outside debris, but filed his own complaint against the property after being inside the structure.
"When I went back, it looked, I mean ... terrible," Tweed said, expressing his concern that a child lives at the residence.
Following Tweed's recommendation, the committee agreed to allow the property owner 30 days for cleanup before the county takes action.
Any longer than that, and "we may get into some bad problems," Tweed said, indicating that it may even be a matter of condemning the structure.
However, he said that some quick improvements could go a long way to improving the situation.
"You want to treat somebody with respect on [cleanup demands]," he told the committee.
The committee, which normally meets quarterly, agreed to meet again next month in order to hear an update on this property.
Tweed also presented a complaint by a neighbor in July of an allegedly uninhabitable and dilapidated structure remaining at 2588 Old Knoxville Hwy.
He said that the owner received notice on Aug. 17, but that there have been no changes and no further word from the property owner, who county records indicate to be Herbert Dyer.
The committee voted for Tweed to move forward with notice that the county will clean up this property, as well as a property located at 281 Love St. that has been overtaken by vines and overgrowth.
"This one you wouldn't believe," Tweed said. "There's a house in there."
Pictures showed indications of a brick home with a red metal roof beneath heavy overgrowth and vines.
Tweed noted that neighbors are having issues with rats, snakes and other wildlife due to the extent of the overgrowth.
The property is vacant, but Tweed said what he could see of the home itself seemed to be in good repair beneath the vines, bushes and trees.
"This one probably shocked me the most," Tweed said, noting that it appears to be a nice home in a nice neighborhood.
The property-owners, Robert and Cynthia Colyer, of Kingsport, did sign that they received notice concerning the problem, he said.
Another property, located at 360 Loveless Loop, owned by William Palmer, is seeing improvement and did not require committee action at this time, Tweed said.
He told the committee that he would keep an eye on progress made to improve the structure, which was left heavily damaged for a time after a large tree fell on the porch and garage.
In April, the committee voted for the county to clean up the following properties:
* 1088 Wykle Road, owned by Robert Swisher;
* 40 Bryant Lane, owned by Lura and Karla Darnell; and,
* 625 Pinto Road, owned by Brad Ellenburg.
Tweed provided updated pictures for each of the properties, none of which had been cleaned up by the county due to budgetary constraints.
The building official requested updated votes from the committee in regards to action necessary on these properties.
The property on Bryant Lane is located in a subdivision and has had no progress made since Tweed named it a "health hazard" to the neighbors.
He first sent the necessary notice in January and said that there has been no evidence of improvements in the situation since that time, or any contact with the property-owners beyond the owner's signature on the notice.
The home has debris, trash and general discarded personal property piled around the structure, Tweed said. Insulation that is blowing onto others' property could pose a health risk, he said.
The committee again confirmed the need for the county to clean up the property with a unanimous vote on Wednesday.
Tweed estimated that this cleanup will cost about $2,000, but reminded the committee that the property-owner receives the bill and the money has always, to his knowledge, been returned to the county.
The cleanup is progressing on Pinto Road, Tweed said, noting that trash and debris piled in large dog pens has been cleared, leaving only mowing of overgrowth.
The committee voted to give the property-owner 30 more days to mow the overgrowth before the county takes action to clean up the property.
The committee voted for the county to clean up these properties as county funding is available, with the understanding that the property-owners would then be responsible for providing reimbursement.
The committee also requested that Tweed contact County Attorney Roger Woolsey concerning having inmates at the Sheriff's Department's workhouse aid in some of the cleanups.
As for the property on Wykle Road, Tweed said that the property-owner has resolved the situation. The committee did not need to take any action on this property, he said.
The committee will meet again at 2 p.m., Nov. 15, in the conference room of the Courthouse Annex.