July 6, 2011 10:59:00 AM
It was obvious Tuesday morning just how tired the Lowndes County supervisors are of dealing with a man his neighbors previously dubbed "the bird man."
Though Keith Kimmerle, who lives out of state, was not at a hearing to discuss his overgrown and unmaintained Oakdale Park property, supervisors went on with the meeting. And they reached a consensus: It''s time to look into tearing the house down.
"I''ve been out there ... and obviously this gentleman has no intention of doing the right thing. I think we need to go in there and knock it down," said District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks.
Brooks also echoed statements already noted by Harry Sanders, District 1 supervisor and board president.
Both agreed the property was a nuisance, likely a health hazard and took away from the attractiveness of the neighborhood.
"I think we need to authorize the (Road Department to demolish it) or the fire department to go in there ... and burn it down. I don''t think we need to go through this every year."
Sanders noted the residents in Oakdale Park, which is off Highway 45 North, just north of city limits, have a covenant to maintain their properties. He suggested turning the matter over to them, as far as tearing down the property.
"The only thing we''re really allowed to do, unless it is an extreme case, is to clean up the lot," Sanders said.
Brooks pressed the issue: "The city (of Columbus) goes throughout the city and tears down houses like nothing, because they use their codes, and they use the laws," Brooks said. "(Kimmerle) has no intention of doing the right thing. He doesn''t care. He doesn''t live here."
Few people have the money to fight such a legal battle, he added, saying Kimmerle''s property is a burden to people who work hard to maintain their homes.
"That is a nice neighborhood," he said. "None of you would want that in your neighborhood. You''d be doing just like these people. You''d be raising hell."
"I''m on your side with this, I really am" Sanders said to Brooks. But Sanders also wanted to ensure the county could legally tear down the property, which might contain items of value to the owner.
Frank Ferguson, supervisor for District 2, which encompasses Oakdale Park, said he is told the house is "not fit to live in."
"I''ve peeped through the window," he added. "I wouldn''t put a dog in there."
Kimmerle, in a past public hearing, said he was an avid bird watcher and let the yard grow into its jungle-like state as a way to attract birds to his two four-story birdhouses mounted on 20-foot poles in the front yard.
Also in the yard is an abandoned Ford Taurus, packed full with old boxes and other items. The front of the house is overflowing with old boxes and other debris.
Over the years, the county has written letters and emails requesting the property be cleaned. Sometimes Kimmerle has cleaned the property himself or paid others to do it. Other times, the county mowed and cleaned the land, then sent Kimmerle the bill.
Kimmerle, a couple years ago, parked a Ford Mustang in the garage, neighbors told Ferguson. To their knowledge, it is still parked there. Neighbors describe Kimmerle as a hoarder, with thousands of books and newspapers piled in the house.
After much discussion, the supervisors agreed to have the county clean the lot, if Kimmerle refused to do so within 30 days. Thereafter, the county building department director will inspect the property to determine whether or not the house was dilapidated enough for demolition.
Supervisors also moved to clean up another unkept property, in Thornton Estates, off Highway 69. The property is owned by Bank of America and has been sitting idle for two years, reported District 2 Supervisor John Holliman.
"There''s a pool. The water''s black ... and it''s got a mosquito problem, and the neighbors are complaining about it," Holliman said, requesting an Aug. 1 hearing on the property "because it is a health hazard."
Thereafter, Bank of America will have 30 days to clean the property or the county will clean it and send the bank the bill.
brother r. commented at 7/6/2011 1:53:00 PM:
Maybe the county will follow suit with what the city does, and let the volunteer fire department have a practice session w/ it. All in the name of training our 1st responders,of course. The owner has been attempted to be contacted with a legal notice. Then you can put some playground equipment or something like that on it, and call it OakDale Park.
raider commented at 7/6/2011 4:23:00 PM:
I can understand the neighbors being upset about this property. I really can. But, I have a real problem with the BOS talking about destroying this man's private property. In my opinion, the notion that the property is an eyesore or that it drives down the value of other homes does not trump the rights of the individual property owner.
Here's a solution...how about the residents of oakdale form a committee and come up with a proposal and offer to buy the house from Kimmerle. Then they could do what ever they wanted to do with the property.
kj commented at 7/6/2011 11:23:00 PM:
Not sure why we should require immediate neighbors to bail out someone who could have resolved the issue on his own. Kimmerle could see the house himself (after cleaning it up), just as he could have at any point over the years he hasn't been living in it. His indifference shouldn't impose an undue responsibility on his neighbors to make sure he's financially whole. It's one thing to be put in a bad situation due to circumstance outside of one's control, it's something entirely different to willfully refuse to improve one's situation.
kj commented at 7/6/2011 11:24:00 PM:
That should have read "Kimmerle could see the house..."
kj commented at 7/6/2011 11:25:00 PM:
LOL...screwed it up a second time. "Kimmerle could _sell_ the house..."
raider commented at 7/7/2011 7:45:00 AM:
@kj- I believe you are missing my point. I am not asking the neighbors to bail Kimmerle out. Kimmerle is a PRIVATE PROPERTY owner. He has rights. He decided that he wanted to use his PRIVATE PROPERTY as a bird sanctuary. It is his property and he should be free to do what he wants with his property. Kimmerle should also be entitled to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
"Both agreed the property was a nuisance, likely a health hazard and took away from the attractiveness of the neighborhood."
The property is considered a "nuisance" says it all. The government should have no right to take private property because it takes "away from the attractiveness of the neighborhood."
Again, if the neighbors want to remedy the situation, then they should buy Kimmerle's property. The BOS should really shut up because I do not believe they have any legal standing at this point. If they tear the house down, then the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for the cost of the house and the losing legal battle. I believe Sanders was right when he suggested turning the matter over to the residence of Oakdale.
gogetum commented at 7/7/2011 8:06:00 AM:
For once I kinda agree with raider. What ever happened to love thy neighbor? However I have one next door who loves to feed the lowly sparrow and draws them in like flies . They are just as pesty as flies too and after eating the junk food he spreads on his window ledge and drive way they fly up to the utility lines over my garden to dispose of their body waste onto my vegetables. Maybe the council will get this guy evicted if I complain to them. Especially since there's an election next year. That's a good point, huh, I think Leroy has some competion in an election that's just around the corner. Wonder if that has any bearing on his ranting this time? Bet the owner of the oakdale house is not black.
1. Steens woman dies in Lowndes Co. wreck COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Lowndes Co. child dies after weekend crash COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Is Cracker Barrel coming to Columbus? COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. CMSD introduces after school program COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. CMSD invests $2M in district's athletic facilities COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY