Residents plead with city to cut overgrown lot in South Memphis neighborhood
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There’s a desperate plea for the City of Memphis to cut tall grass and overgrown weeds outside an abandoned home.
And this is no ordinary vacant house. The address is 1173 Severson Ave. in South Memphis. Five years ago this month, it was the scene of one of the deadliest fires in Memphis history.
Neighbors reached out to Action News 5 this week, asking for help to get the City of Memphis to maintain the property.
“We’ve been calling for the last six months to get the grass cut, and we haven’t heard anything back,” said Sandra Hampton.
Hampton’s family owns the house next door.
“The bushes are overgrown and we have mice running around,” Hampton said. “Lizards. All kinds of insects. Snakes. It’s an eyesore and it’s not safe. Trash is piling up. They dump trash around the back and cars have even been abandoned behind the house.”
For five years now, the tiny house on the corner has been empty with its roof warped, and windows and doors boarded up. Black char marks are barely visible today.
On Sept. 12, 2016 around 1 a.m., tragedy struck. Ten people died in a fire inside the house. Three adults and seven children died. The Memphis Fire Department determined a faulty chord on a window unit air-conditioner started the fire. It’s unimaginable heartache for friends and loved ones.
Ten stuffed animals, all wearing tiny little fire hats, are tied to a fence barely visible now through the tall grass and towering weeds. Hampton’s nephew nailed boards back in place after someone broke into the home. And her family has cut the lawn several times. But they’ve reached their limit.
“We can’t afford to constantly keep getting the grass cut,” she said. “It’s a financial strain on us when it’s not our property.”
The home has been tied up in probate court. Then, on July 26, the City of Memphis posted a notice on the front door saying it had filed a Neighborhood Preservation Act (NPA) lawsuit, declaring the house a public nuisance.
The NPA allows the Shelby County Environmental Court judge to appoint someone to demolish the house or fix it up for a qualified buyer. But until that happens, Hampton said the property needs attention.
“It’s not healthy, and that’s our biggest issue,” she said. “We’ve been calling and no one has even attempted to reach us, or call back, send anybody over to look at it or anything.”
A City of Memphis spokesperson told Action News 5 that the next court date for the Severson house is Oct. 19. We were also told a contractor has been assigned to mow the grass.
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