Neighborhood Nightmares: Is your neighbor a problem?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 18, 2015) - We all know the stories of that neighbor who is a total nightmare to live next to. They’re lazy, dirty and loud. They don’t take their trash to the curb. Instead, it sits on their lawn, which looks more like a landfill. Their dog doesn’t stop barking, and their grass hasn’t been cut in what looks like years.

Why put up with it?

If you’re fed up, you’ve had enough, and you can’t take it anymore, wake up. It’s not a nightmare, that’s your neighbor.

You may have seen the stories right on CBS4 before. Like of an Indy man who had his ear bitten off by his neighbor after noise complaints turned into a bloody backyard brawl.

Or in Lawrence, where another man had to deal with not someone, but something living next door -- an abandoned house left to decay and sit as a permanent eyesore.

But these nightmare neighbors are not alone. It seems there are streets suffering all over the city.

In 2014 alone, the Department of Code Enforcement reported nearly 23,000 violations.

More than 1,500 for left out trash; 1,700 for homes in disrepair; and the biggest nightmare neighbors cause in Indy? More than 11,000 code violations for high grass and weeds.

You can see in DCE maps the city’s hot spots for violations are scattered all over. Many though are clustered around the near east side.

IMPD reports for nuisance activity see hotspots on the near east side too. Animal care and control calls have a high frequency on the near east side as well.

“Near north, near east side is really where there’s a concentration,” said Dimitri Kyser, Communications Coordinator for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement.

“Since January I would say roughly there’s been about 1,700 trash nuisance complaints, and then a little bit more than 1,200 illegal dumping,” he said.

The Department of Code Enforcement patrols city streets looking into filed nuisance complaints. Everything from an unmowed lawn, to trash filling a front yard.

“Especially if you have kids, families that walk up and down the street, they use the sidewalks, they walk the alleys, they want to be comfortable in their neighborhood and especially in the community, and they want to make sure that their community is doing everything it can in order to provide a healthy and safe area for them,” said Kyser.

“There are code violations all over this property,” said John Hay, the Executive Director of the Near East Area Renewal Organization.

Which zip is one of the city’s worst offenders? 46201. St. Clair Place was once a gem of the near east side. Today, it’s a very different neighborhood, trying hard to reclaim its once shining status.

Hay was asked what he says to prospective home buyers, when they see a new home sitting next to a nightmare neighbor.

“First of all, we say to them, 'this neighborhood on the whole is changing, that this is going to be a transformed neighborhood,'” he said.

Hay knows nightmare neighbors are the norm in St. Clair. Eyesores began impacting more than aesthetics; nuisance neighbors were tanking property values.

“It demoralizes people, people say 'I care for my property, well why can’t you care for your property?'” said Hay.

But as the Executive Director of the Near East Side Renewal, Hay believes each plot can become a possible nightmare neighbor, turned dream home.

“The house that was here six months ago sat abandoned for five years. It was deteriorated to the point that it couldn’t be saved,” he said.

Hay’s non-profit organization buys and rehabs roughed-up properties; a process that is slowly turning the tide of his hood.

“This is a transformed neighborhood from what it was four years ago. The average sale price for properties in St. Clair Place in 2012 was $22,000. The average sale price is over $80,000 now,” he said.

“It’s absolutely different. I live a couple blocks west, close to Woodruff Place, I didn’t really wander east in the neighborhood because there were so many problem properties and animals wandering. Now I walk east, I know people that live over here and it’s just really exciting, the momentum that’s going on is great,” said Sarah Dillinger, the President of the St. Clair Place Neighborhood Association.

The secret to eradicating nightmare neighbors and the nuisances that come with them Dillinger said is as simple as a stroll down your street.

“We have front porches here, we all like to build a sense of community. You’re not just buying a home, you’re moving into a community where you’re going to be part of something,” said.

While Dillinger says knowing your neighbors and developing a sense of that neighborhood pride can cut down on the disrespect shown by those living next door, it’s not entirely fool proof.

The Mayor’s Action Hotline is the go to for any complaint. You can call a number or go to their website, and code enforcement, IMPD, or animal control, will look into launching an investigation.

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