State Law Stops Counties From Cleaning Up Some Blighted Properties
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - Some Rogers County folks are fed up that county government can't do anything about the dilapidated homes next door.
Most of the homes are in neighborhoods in unincorporated parts of the county, which means county commissioners can't do anything about it.
In a Rogers County neighborhood that sits just outside of Inola city limits, the majority of the homeowners take pride in their yards, but there's one eyesore causing a huge disturbance.
"I don't want to look at it. I don't want my kids to ride their bike through it, and I don't want to be near it," said resident Jennifer Parker.
Parker lives next door to the abandoned house.
Neighbors can't remember the last time the yard was cut. Weeds are so tall, you can barely see the front of the house.
"Every time they mowed it, we would have mice in our house, and I'd have to catch a bunch of mice for a couple days, and then I wouldn't have anymore until the next time they mowed," Parker said.
And she's not alone.
Diane Patterson said the last straw for her was when a snake slithered its way from that yard to her house.
"That did it for me. It was a huge snake, and it was coming right to our garage and we had to fight that off, so that was it," Patterson said.
Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker said there are overgrown yards, abandoned homes and neglected, burned houses all over the county.
He met us at one in a neighborhood outside of Catoosa city limits.
"It's gutted. It's burned out and it's in a subdivision like this. And the kids go in there and play, so it's really a matter of public health and safety," Thacker said.
But at this point, Thacker said his hands are tied. He said state laws prevent the county from taking over nuisances like these and cleaning them up.
"This is a nice neighborhood, and I get the calls and I don't like having to tell my constituents, 'Well, there's nothing I can do about it.'"
That's why he wants the county to go to the Association of County Commissioners to lobby for laws that will help with this situation.
"Hope he does well, 'cause we're rooting for him," Patterson said.
The board of commissioners will seek help from the Association of County Commissioners next week.