12 ON YOUR SIDE: Damaged homes removed

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Authorities say Robert Hayes killed himself after starting fires at a home in Cherrydale West subdivision and another in Dogwood Knoll.

The dilapidated structures had been standing since 2008.

It's taken years, but residents are happy the buildings are finally gone.

Back in 2011, the property owner said the property was tied up in multiple layers of litigation.

Lora Hayes agreed with her neighbors - the view was offensive, but the insurance and mortgage companies were battling.

Charles Paulus and his neighbors on Shea Tree Circle lived next door to the fire-damaged home and garage for nearly five years - which he says was not just ugly but a health and safety concern.

"It was falling in," said Paulus. "An eyesore. The roof was caving in. If we had a good snow last winter, the roof would have caved in completely. It just kept sagging more and more."

Paulus said nothing happened easily - in terms of improvements - for years, until the Hanover County building inspector's office cracked down and demanded demolition.

"The lady that did own it - and maybe still owns it, I don't know - will do nothing until she's forced to do something," said Paulus.

According to county records, Lora Hayes still owns the two properties.

The charred garage is now gone next to Paulus' home and the burned out house on Vaughan Drive was demolished and hauled away just before Thanksgiving.

Neighbors say the owner now keeps the grass cut every three weeks and the property tidy. They are now satisfied.

I reached out to the property owner and her attorney but did not get a return call. Her attorney last said to me, it was a tragic chain of events and that Lora Hayes was a victim too. She wanted the property cleaned up as much as her former neighbors.

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