Local News

Vines From Empty Lot Invade Fayetteville Homeowner's Yard

Posted August 29, 2002 6:58 a.m. EDT

— A Cumberland County man has a job he does not want.

Joe DeAguilera constantly has to cut back a mass of wild vines that invade his yard. The vines are growing from the empty lot next door.

"I don't keep the best yard in the world, but this to me is ridiculous, me having to deal with this all the time," DeAguilera said.

DeAguilera said the vines are infested with snakes and mice so his children cannot even play in their own back yard. He has called Fayetteville city officials about the problem repeatedly, but said he did not get anywhere.

Property records show the lot belongs to Jose Rosa. So far, no one has been able to track him down, making DeAguilera's case difficult.

Legal aid attorney Christine Kennedy said the solution to a messy yard is often simple.

"Neighbors do let their yards go, and sometimes neighbor's put up with it. They don't have to put up with it," Kennedy said.

That is because most communities have specific ordinances about the upkeep of developed property. In Raleigh and Cary, grass cannot be taller than 8 inches. If someone is not following the rules, the zoning department should be contacted. Inspectors can issue citations, fine the property owner or even clean up the mess and then bill the owner.

However, when property has never been cleared or built on, like the lot next to DeAguilera, those rules do not apply.

City inspectors suggest DeAquilera simply spray weed killer on the vines.

"I think it's important that people do not take it into their own hands and go over to their neighbors yard to fix these problems. That would be trespassing," she said.

DeAquilera said he does not want to take it care of it himself.

"I don't think the stuff climbing into my yard, growing into my yard -- I don't think it should be my responsibility. Not at all," he said.

Fayetteville inspectors and Five On Your Side are still trying to find Rosa, who might not even realize the condition of his lot.