Floyd County Commissioners discuss issue with property PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 09 August 2017 10:50

By Josh Suiter
Special Correspondent

The Floyd County Commissioners heard about a property on Hausfeldt Lane that was described as being full of junk and causing rodents and snakes during their August 1 meeting.

Floyd County Health Department Officer Dr. Tom Harris said the property at 519 Hausfeldt Lane is “technically in the county but it is actually in the unincorporated area of the New Albany city fringe zone.”

“This property is basically being used as a trash dump. There is all kinds of debris there, we are starting to have increasing problem of mosquitos, rats, coming from there. This has been an ongoing issue since 2012. The city funded a cleanup in 2015 which was complicated by some aggression in part by the homeowner,” he added.

Harris said the homeowner, Jarrett Hamilton, has filed suit against various agencies in the federal appeals court and that has delayed the clean-up process. According to the City of New Albany’s website, from October 2, 2009 to September 9, 2014, the property was owned by Judith Bischoff.  On September 9, 2014, a quit-claim deed was issued conveying the property to Jarrett Hamilton; however, Mr. Hamilton has lived on the property since 2009.  Ms. Bischoff lived with Mr. Hamilton until late 2014.

He said at the end of July, the health department sent a letter to New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and the city council expressing “our concerns about the increasing risk of disease transmission from this and on the first of August the mayor wrote a letter that shows that the city is now filing a suit against (Hamilton) as well.”

“There is a home that cares for veterans on one side (of the home) and on the other side is a really nice elderly woman that feels completely intimated by this guy who has made threats against her and threats against the health department as well,” Harris said.

Hamilton was ordered to leave the home by a judge and doesn’t live there.

Commissioner John Schnellenberger asked “Would the cleanup also include the inside of the house as well?”

Harris said it would and that the inside of the house looks “like a typical hoarders house with a small walkway with debris on both sides.”

He told the commissioners at this point he was looking for visibility and pressure from the commissioners to get this cleaned up.

Larry Clemmons, the neighbor who runs the veterans home said “We have been (dealing) with this for the 2-3 years. Something has got to be done. We have all kinds of critters running through our yards. We have snakes, we have all kinds of mice and rats and all kinds of other things out there and it is all because of this junk next door to us.”

“Everybody I keep talking to keeps passing it on to the next person. The city has been there and they did a good job but two weeks later he started doing it again. Now it is worse than it has ever been. He has about 14 cars sitting there. The junk is unbelievable,” he added.

Commissioner Mark Seabrook said the county is “doing the best we can do to do something about it even though it is under the city’s jurisdiction.”

Clemmons said “I don’t think any of you all would live next door to this….Somebody has to do something about this. We have patients there that we walk up and down the driveway. We try to keep our place ice and clean. But I can guarantee if you walk down our driveway, I can guarantee you that you will get eaten by about 10 mosquitos.”

Sherriff Frank Loop said his department has been involved in Hausfeldt Lane property because “the city police would not. They refused to be involved. The health department reached out to me.”

“I have been in that house and the pictures do not do it justice. The only think we will be able to do is to bulldoze it ….I wonder where Mr. Hamilton is living. My officers are ordered to go by there every shift. If we catch him there, we are to call the judge so she can call him in contempt and we can take him.”

In addition, on the city’s website Mayor Gahan says the city filed a suit against Hamilton on June 22, 2017, stating he is using the property as junkyard, creating a hazard to public health and a public nuisance.

“Numerous issues involving the home owner and safety exist, which require the legal system to make fair, unbiased and authorized decisions in order to protect individual property rights.  We support and allow due process to proceed to protect all those involved, but as we have demonstrated in the past, the City will act with prudence to protect the health of all citizens in the fringe areas or the incorporated City of New Albany,” the website statement from Gahan said. 
Schellenberger assured Clemmons that the county “will do everything we can to get the problem resolved.”