WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – It’s like a jungle in the middle of suburban St. Louis, but neighbors say it shouldn’t be there.
Residents on Wells Avenue in Webster Groves say a house and surrounding yard have been neglected for more than a decade.
“Nobody can tell him what to do. He’s a very individual kind of person,” said resident Ken Carp. “If you can afford the kind of taxes people pay in Webster on your real estate, you can afford to cut your grass.”
Carp says it’s not only ugly to look at, but adds it’s also dangerous when you consider standing water and overgrown trees threatening power lines.
“You can see the mold all over the front of the house,” he said.
When we knocked on the homeowner’s door, he offered no comment. We followed up by asking if he’s ok and he responded, “Yes. I like it this way!”
Two other neighbors we spoke to off camera said they’ve complained for at least a decade.
Webster’s City Attorney Neil Bruntrager said in an email to the mayor, “The history of this property goes back to 2004. There have been constant visits, even during the time of COVID.”
Carp says those visits never result in action.
“Webster likes to talk about being warm and fuzzy and everyone getting along and if they took any kind of action it would suggest they’re not that warm and fuzzy people,” he said.
Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch says the city’s tried everything from involving the police to social services and she’s too frustrated by the lack of action.
Last week, she asked the city attorney what other steps Webster Groves can take, Bruntrager answered that they can cut the grass, remove debris, and bill the homeowner. He also mentioned what he called a “nuclear option,” writing, “In extreme circumstances where public safety is an issue, the city has the power to condemn the property.”
Carp says he’s not holding his breath.
“My speculation would be they’re worried about the bad press of doing something to somebody,” he said.
Bruntrager said Webster Groves will take court action if necessary while also continuing to see if the homeowner will accept help to do the right thing.