Petersburg city manager owns Richmond house in foreclosure - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Petersburg city manager owns Richmond house in foreclosure

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The home sits on a quiet stretch of Traylor Drive, with weeds growing on the roof, and a gash on its side. An NBC12 investigation reveals the empty Richmond house is owned by Petersburg City Manager William E. Johnson III.

"It's a tragedy really," said neighbor Bob Pontius in a June 5 interview. "It's been like this for three years, ever since Mr. Johnson's tenants moved out."

The property at 3718 Traylor Dr is now in foreclosure, and neighbors complain the home has ruined their street.

In a phone interview Thursday, Johnson confirmed the property is in foreclosure, because of financial circumstances he could not disclose. The City Manager also confirmed that he once rented the property, but his tenants no longer live there.

"This is my personal business, and I'm willing to work this out with my neighbors," Johnson said in the phone interview. "There are no boarded windows on the house, and I think it's in suitable shape."

When NBC12 first visited the house in early June, grass grew more than two feet tall in the front yard. In March 2012, Johnson implored Petersburg residents to maintain their own properties, as the City weighed increasing penalties for high grass.

"What we're really requesting, is that our property owners maintain their property, so we can use our city resources in other areas," Johnson said in the 2012 interview

The Richmond house has gutters clogged with weeds, and a torn apart chain link fence lining the backyard. Property records indicate Johnson purchased the home more than three years ago, on June 7, 2010.

Even as the housing market recovered, the value of the home lost $113,000 between assessment years 2012 and 2013.

"I've lived in this neighborhood for three years, and [the house] has looked horrible the whole time," said neighbor Ben Dunham in an interview. "If [Johnson] is in Petersburg trying to fix up that area… why not help his neighbors out here?"

After NBC12 contacted Johnson, the City Manager mowed the grass and had debris cleared from the driveway and front walkway.

Johnson said he thought it was the bank's responsibility to take care of the property during the foreclosure process, and would not provide the name of the bank.

"We've raked [the front yard] for a couple of years," said neighbor Carol Pontius in an interview. "Leaves pile up in the fall, which kills the grass. And then weeds come up, and the City comes out and mows it and puts a sticker on the door."

Johnson said he will be sending more crews to fix lingering problems, such as the mangled backyard fence. There is no time frame set for when the home will come out of foreclosure, and put back on the market.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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