Complaints about burned out structures

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Two torched houses are an eyesore and a thorn in everybody's side in two Hanover county neighborhoods.

The properties have been that way for three and a half years.

The tragic chain of events occurred following an apparent suicide and two house fires, within a mile of each other.

Authorities found Robert Hayes dead with a gunshot to his head inside a garage at one of the homes.

NBC 12 covered both fires when they happened, in March 2008.

Since then, not much has happened to the properties in the Cherrydale West' subdivision and the Dogwood Knoll subdivision.

Now residents have called 12 wanting to know why the structures haven't been torn down.

If residents in the two subdivisions had the power, those burned out structures would have been bulldozed long ago. They really do look awful.

The lawyer for the property owner, the dead man's wife, says she's a victim too and wants the properties cleaned up, as much as her former neighbors.

It's an ugly sight and has been called everything from blight on the block to a health and safety hazard.

"Somebody come through during the night. They kicked in the back of the house. We didn't use to have problems like that around here," said neighbor, Charles Paulus.

With no argument from property owner, Lora Hayes, who lives less than a mile away.

Hayes is very much aware of the offensive view and told me her hands are tied while the insurance and mortgage companies and lawyers fight it out with no quick resolution.

"I sit here on my back deck, and look at the side of the garage burned out and all this other crap," said Paulus.

Charles Paulus lives next door in the Cherrydale subdivision and says he vividly remembers that tragic day.

"Somebody ought to be able to put some pressure on somebody to get something done", he said.

He wants what his other neighbors who take care of their yards and homes.

"Sheds torn down and cleaned up and the grass cut. The neighbors are all upset about it. Tired of looking at it," he said.

The property owner's attorney said the grass is getting cut now but not because of 12 On Your Side.

Attorney Bruce Gainey blames the hold up on legal questions about the suicide and who started the fires.

He says his client is the victim in this tragedy. The insurance company hasn't paid and Lora Hayes doesn't have the money or physical power to take care of the properties.

A judge has given Hayes 60 days to make the properties decent.

Hanover's Chief Building Inspector tells me if they are not in compliance by November, he will start the process to tear them down and bill the owner.

But even with that time line the earliest the houses would be bulldozed is the first of next year.

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