Fort Worth

Neighbors Worry About Burned Home's Overgrown Grass

Neighbors say grass is more than six feet tall in some spots

Devastating house fires can cause nightmares for families, but months later they can be just as troubling to neighbors.

Residents in North Fort Worth have growing concerns about a property that burned last August where no one is now living and no repair work is taking place.

"It makes the neighborhood look really bad," said Mary Martinez.

"Makes the neighborhood look shabby," added her husband, Stan Martinez.

The home neighboring theirs in the Summerfields Neighborhood is missing most of its roof, is semi-covered by tattered tarps and has grass growing taller than the backyard fence, which is about six-feet tall.

"I figure they'd fix it, you know. We give it a few months to fix it," Stan Martinez said.

The single-story house caught fire in mid-August 2014, and Fort Worth's Code Compliance Department has been following up ever since.

Code supervisor Chris McAllister said that the homeowners had insurance issues for months, but finally pulled permits to remodel in February. Code Compliance issued at least two notices to the homeowners to take action on the home.

The homeowners sold the property in June, and the new owners also received a similar notice to take action.

Some work has been done on the inside, but what concerns residents the most is what's outside.

"They ought to send somebody to just mow it down every once in a while, it'd be better than what is now," Stan Martinez said.

The high grass has some neighbors keeping their kids indoors for fear of unwanted critters.

"I don't blame them. No telling what's back there," Mary Martinez said.

The grass in the front yard appeared to be violating city code, which limits grass to being no higher than 12 inches. The city warned residents earlier this year following the record May rains.

Having grass that is six-feet tall in your backyard is a code violation, too, but it's more complicated to enforce and rectify.

Code officers cannot legally look over a fence, per the Fourth Amendment, so a third party must document the problem and complain before action can be taken.

With the front yard grass at right around 12 inches, a mow order was filed on Monday for the home.
As for the actual home, the permit to rebuild expires in early August. If nothing is done to fix-up the dilapidated structure, Code Compliance will take the homeowner to the Building Standards Commission where an order to repair or demolish the home could be issued.

Code Compliance was hopeful that when the permit was pulled the situation would be resolved.

It could take several weeks before the grass is mowed, as a legal notification process has to be followed. But the neighborhood eyesore could soon be remedied.

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