Man’s messy yard that appears abandoned aggravates neighbors on Kansas City street

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hutson Road is an attractive street lined with well-tended homes until you see the house on the corner with the long grass, overgrown backyard and four vehicles in the driveway that appear to be abandoned.

"I'm aggravated," said neighbor Jeri Hewitt. "I'm disgusted. I'm worried about our property values dropping and I'm sure it has."

Hewitt is one of several neighbors who complained to FOX 4 Problem Solvers about the home, which has been a rental for several years. Kansas City, Mo., codes enforcement has cited the renter five times, but besides an occasional lawn mowing, little gets fixed.

"Even our neighbors can't believe this hasn't been taken care of," said Hewitt. "I was told through the city `well the taxes are paid.' Well so are mine. Why do I have to deal with it?"

Hewitt said she hasn't seen the man renting the house, Terry Nelson, since October. His four vehicles, none of which appear to be legally licensed, sit in the driveway like part of a junkyard display.

"They haven't been moved in two to four years," Hewitt said.

Problem Solvers hasn't been able to find the renter to get his side of this story, but the city tells us there are five outstanding warrants for his arrest for property violations.

Problem Solvers paid a visit to the actual owner of the home, Pat Dunn. He lives in a tidy Northland home that looks nothing like the one he rents. Dunn wasn't home, but later called us. He said he's been trying to work with his renter to fix the problems. But neighbors are doubtful since many of the problems have been going on for years.

"We've had nothing but trouble since the Dunns owned this property," Hewitt said. "We just want the property to look as nice as where they live."

One problem that should be easy to solve, we thought, are the vehciles. Problem Solvers checked and none are legally licensed. That violates city code. Kansas City could get a court order to tow the cars. So hasn't that been done?

Kansas City spokesman Chris Hernandez said the city typically doesn't seize cars unless they present a health or safety problem or they are abandoned. That explanation was surprising to a former city official who told us the city has always been able to tow away disabled and illegal cars from private homes.

After we pointed that out to Hernandez, he promised to have the city pay another visit to the home and re-evaluate the situation.

We received an encouraging email from Hernandez Thursday saying the city now deciding whether to issue an emergency order to have the vehicles towed within 48 hours or have a judge issue a warrant allowing the city to seize the cars. We'll check back and let you know what happens.

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