LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Rats, snakes and the smell of trash — that’s what neighbors in La Vergne say they have been dealing with for years from a lot on JFK Drive.

Residents in the area off Waldron Road call it a health concern, saying they’ve reached out to city officials for several years with no resolve.

“It’s awful, it’s awful,” Autumn Matthews who lives next door to the property told News 2.

Ask anyone on the street and the feeling is mutual.

“It’s disgusting,” said Lauren Mathews, who lives a few doors down as she shook her head.

They call it an eyesore with tarps covering piles of boxes on the front porch of the trailer, as well as piles of trash around the overgrown property.

“It literally looks like a meth den with all of the tarps and everything, like it looks like a safety hazard. It looks like an episode of hoarders,” Autumn explained. 

“It’s a hoarders episode,” Lauren agreed. “Everything’s stacked up on the porch. Because they have so much inside, it’s stacked up outside. The trash is stacked up outside so you know what they do they cover it up with tarps and they cover it up with sheets.”

The smell of trash permeates from the lot through the neighborhood, they say, especially on a humid day.

“Oh you can smell it, it’s awful,” said Lauren.

Autumn agreed, “Yes it’s awful. There’s probably dead animals under those piles of trash.”

However, neighbors say there are still plenty of living animals, many that have made their way from the abandoned lot into their homes. 

“It’s causing rodents, snakes, bugs and then it’s infesting the whole neighborhood,” said Lauren who has lived in the neighborhood for a decade.

“It’s like it’s breeding a new type of animal, it’s very unsettling,”  said Autumn.

The abandoned lot causes concerns for families with children and pets.

“Like there’s rats the size of possums,” Krista Lawson who lives across the way told News 2.

It’s an issue city officials say they were made aware of nearly five years ago with La Vergne Code Department enforcers visiting the property more than 24 times since.

“I think everybody on the street has complained to codes,” said Lauren.

A danger sign is now posted on the fence, deeming the property abandoned and unhabitable, while neighbors plea for the city to help.

“Like, at least just have codes come clear the yard out and mow the grass,” Autumn suggested. 

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“I want it gone, I want it gone. Somebody tear it down,” said Lauren.

City officials released the following details to News 2:

“The city has been working on violations at the 121 JFK property since January of 2018, with our codes enforcers visiting the property more than 24 times since then. The city has tried to reach out many times but has not been able to get in touch with the property owner in nearly two years. Unfortunately, due to the COVID pandemic, the process has been slower to work through than the City would have liked.

Our codes department has deemed the property abandoned and non-habitable. City property taxes haven’t been paid since 2016 and city water was shut off in 2020. NES pulled the electrical meter in 2020 as well.

City staff are currently going through the process for slum clearance and held a hearing on October 18, 2022. The hearing was advertised in a local paper and posted on the property. No one attended. City attorneys are now working to get documentation in front of a Rutherford County judge to give us the autonomy to handle, possess, and dispose of the personal property inside the home. Once that is completed and the City hires a contractor, we will be able to clear the property.

The city is taking this matter very seriously and is making sure that all procedures are followed to allow us to legally work through this issue and resolve it as soon as possible.”

City of La Vergne Spokesperson