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Questions over who owns home doesn't slow cleanup efforts

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - It took years of work to get it torn down but only a few minutes to actually do the work.

In its effort to get rid of structures that pose health hazards, the city of Shepherdsville tore down its first home at the corner of Hester Street and Carpenter Street on Friday morning.

While the city has gotten rid of an eyesore, the battle over who actually owes the property may have to be settled in court.

Rodney Noe and David Miller appeared before the Shepherdsville City Council and both claimed ownership of the home, which had dirt floors and collapsing walls.

Shepherdsville city councilmembers opted to not worry about the ownership issue and allowed the works department to destroy the structure.

Since August 2008, city code enforcement officer Jim McAuliffe has been working to find out who owned the property. During the initial contact, McAuliffe claimed that Noe said it was not his property.

Then, last week, he said it was.

“The home is terrible,” said McAuliffe. “It’s a health and fire hazard.”

The city recently adopted a more stringent ordinance to deal with nuisances such as abandoned homes.

On Friday morning, a number of residents came out to see what was happening at the property.

Mayor Sherman Tinnell said the city’s goal is to work with people. Giving them time to bring property up to code compliance is the first option, he said.

“If we can salvage a house, we will,” said Tinnell.

He was pleased that after nearly two years of trying to find the owner, the Hester Street property was finally cleaned up.

The only expense to the property owner is the cost of demolition. By using city equipment and workers, Tinnell said it would not be very expensive.

For property owners, it is a benefit and it is much cheaper than if they had to hire someone to do it.

“The general public will like to see what the city is doing,” said Tinnell. “This ordinance will help to clean up the city.”

The property owner still has possession of the land, according to Tinnell.

“I think we’re doing the right thing,” said Tinnell.

He expects more calls will be coming from residents wanting the city to clean up a nuisance and from property owners asking the city to tear down a structure.

McAuliffe said his greatest concern is that kids will get into vacant properties. He knew the Hester Street property was the site of parties and other forms of mischief.

“I hate to see homes destroyed,” said McAuliffe. “But some of them are beyond repair.”

Prior to the recommendation for demolition, McAuliffe said three of the councilmembers walked through to see the condition. He was pleased they supported his recommendation to clean up the property.

He said several more homes are on the cleanup list.