Ooltewah neighborhood fed up with tornado-ravaged eyesore - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ooltewah neighborhood fed up with tornado-ravaged eyesore

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OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) - Residents in one Ooltewah neighborhood say they're fed up with living near an abandoned, tornado-ravaged home. They hope the county will step in to get it cleaned up or knocked down.

It was destroyed in the March 2, 2012 tornado and the owner hasn't been around since.  

That tornado ravaged most of the homes in the Savannah Hills neighborhood in Ooltewah. Today, all of the homes have been rebuilt or torn down, all but one. Neighbors say they're sick of looking at it and have health and safety concerns.

"It brings back the worst day of our lives," Snow Hill Road resident Ken Herrick said.

Seventeen months later after the tornado hit, homeowners are not quite seeing a picturesque lakefront neighborhood, because the home with one of the best views, hasn't been touched.

"This guy has done nothing. I can't believe a guy can abandon his property in a neighborhood, and nothing be done about it," Herrick said.

The windows, doors and roof are busted out, which means furniture, clothes and toys are exposed to the elements. You can see weeds growing inside.

"With this hot and humid weather, I can actually smell the moldy smell blowing out of it," Snow Hill Road resident Tim Daniels said.

County trustee records show owners Terry and Michelle Bishop are paid up on the property taxes, but neighbors say they split up and the house has been vacant since about a year before the tornado hit.

"I've run looters away numerous times. People taking out the wire just taking out belongings because it was still furnished," Daniels said.

They complain it's affecting property values, and have seen snakes and rats. The Hamilton County Health Department has deemed it hazardous.

"It is a safety hazard because it is a severely damaged and dilapidated house," Hamilton County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins said.

"It probably could've been salvaged but there is no salvaging it now. It has to be demolished. There's no question about it," Herrick said.

The Hamilton County Health and Safety Board turned it over to the county attorney. They say they have spoken with owner Terry Bishop, who promises he'll be back in town to address it in a month. He's in the military and currently deployed.

"Good luck. I've heard the same story," Daniels said.

"He's had 17 months and he hasn't responded," Herrick said.

Neighbors are planning a petition to put the pressure on the county to speed things up.

Hamilton County Attorney Rheubin Taylor says if the owner does not fix it up within a certain time frame, the can file court action against him. He says he does not know if the owner has been on military deployment the entire time since the tornado. He has not identified the deadline he'll give him to take care of the property.

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