SLIDELL, La. -- A Slidell man says he's fed up with fighting a blighted property on his block and says St. Tammany's rules against rundown homes and overgrown yards aren't helping.
The home, on Morrow Drive in Slidell, has tall grass, both in the front and back yards. The home is boarded up, with the exception of a back door, which is wide open, and a dilapidated shed sits in the jungle that is the back yard.
The neighbor says snakes and big rodents come into his yard from next door, and he's worried all of the vines growing on the power lines will affect his electricity.
Anthony Benfatti has been dealing with the mess for years and says trying to get anything done about it is another mess in itself.
"She told me they went as far as they go," he said. "You fine them and if they ever try to sell the house, somebody's gotta pay the fine."
That's what happened with a ruling made on the property in 2009, but since nothing happened, payment or cleanup, Benfatti tried again this year.
After the parish left a warning in April, they came back to check the property in June, but nothing changed. So now, it goes to court in August, but generally the parish can't do anything until that court date comes and goes.
"It's a very difficult issue because you have to balance the rights of property owners versus what a government can require someone to do with their property," said Suzanne Parsons Stymiest, spokeswoman for St. Tammany Parish.
But the parish knew something had to be done with properties like the one on Morrow, so it changed the law last year, now setting a limit on fine collection before sticking the bill on property taxes, which can't be ignored.
"In the last year, year and a half, we're trying to be as proactive as we can to make sure that we have teeth in our ordinances that will protect property owner," Stymiest said.
The parish says a new program to cut overgrown lots, and tack the bill onto the homeowner's taxes is in the works. It could be considered as an option at the court hearing for the Morrow Drive property next month.