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Home considered abandoned by neighbors is lingering source of pain following tornado

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Walk up and down Holly Street in East Nashville and you will see home after home under renovation alongside properties demolished, making room for new builds.

When the tornado struck March 3, 2020, it hit the street especially hard, forcing almost complete rebuilding or rehabbing.

But reach the end of the street, at the corner of Holly and Oakhill, there is a house that neighbors said is virtually unchanged since the tornado.

One side of the home has collapsed, windows are broken and a board covers the door.

Neighbors like John Frogge said no one has lived in the house for years, and following the tornado,no improvements have been made.

“There are problems with junk blowing into the yard. We’ve had mice, which we’ve never hither to have, and the tall grass, which at least has been taken care of now,” Frogge said.

Two houses down, neighbor Kim VanDusen, who had to move out so her family’s home could be rebuilt, said she considers the home abandoned.

“We’re rebuilding, a lot of our neighbors are rebuilding, we are ready to move on, and it’s a hard thing to look at,” VanDusen said.

VanDusen, like all the neighbors who spoke to News4 Investigates, said they are not made with the owner of the abandoned home, they just want to know how long it will remain in the dilapidated state.

“I don’t have any hard feelings, but as a community and as a street, we are ready to move on,” VanDusen said.

Frogge said he has repeatedly texted the homeowner and has been given no concrete answers as to why the house remains untouched.

“This is someone who I consider not just to be a neighbor, but a friend, and I don’t understand what is exactly the hitch is right now,” Frogge said.

News4 Investigates repeatedly called the phone number for the owner of the property, but he did not return calls.

Records with Metro Codes show three reports of complaints, one for high grass and two more for the house being in a dilapidated state, but no fines have been issued.

“That house is irreparable and it has to be demolished. What are we waiting for? What is the city waiting for?” Van Dusen said.

Emily Lamb, Assistant Director of Metro Codes, said she understands the neighbors’ concerns.

Codes records show they are set to once again investigate the dilapidated complaint, but Lamb points out that a year after the tornado, they are still receiving permits to demolish or rebuild, thanks to the usual process of going through insurance claims.

“It’s just going to require some patience and some grade. Let the process work, know that Metro is doing all we can while working with the property owners in an unfortunate situation that happened to them, not necessarily something they did,” Lamb said.

Lamb said if the city does have the ability to demolish a house, but only after it goes through a lengthy process where a homeowner can ultimately appeal it to the courts.

“Add to that COVID, courts are closed. It’s just a potentially long process,” Lamb said.

While Codes doesn’t have a current list of properties considered abandoned, records show there are currently 85 demolition permits for homes that were destroyed.

 
 
 

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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