Raleigh woman says her councilwoman is MIA - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Raleigh woman says her councilwoman is MIA

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Raleigh woman says her city council representative has been missing in action as she attempts to clean up a vacant property in her neighborhood.

Resident Sandra Kuhtz has a problem.

"People just drive in there and dump all their trash," Kuhtz said Monday, pointing out a vacant lot in her neighborhood. "We had fires all Summer. People get their four-wheelers and burn stuff up. We've had shootings back there."

According to Kuhtz, people have gone as far as abandoning cars on the land, and at times trash blocks a creek that flows through it.  That, Kuhtz said, leads to a whole new set of problems.

"The water piles up," she said. "In the summer, we get rats and snakes that come up from all the water."

Kuhtz claims she's been asking for help from her District 7 councilwoman since last year.

"I understand she had been sick and now she's not able to do anything," she said.

Memphis Councilwoman Barbara Ware is banned from council activities, after being charged with official misconduct. But Kuhtz says she e-mailed Ware before the indictment.

"I don't have a problem with her not responding, I just want to know what we can do," she said.       

Meanwhile, for Kuhtz, unanswered questions are mounting.

"We don't even know who owns the land," she said.
Tax records show the City of Memphis and Shelby County are two of the four landowners.  A county spokesperson said Shelby County just took over the land Saturday, and will immediately send a crew to clean up.

Meanwhile, a city spokesperson said the problem is more complex that it looks: Squatters have been camping out on the vacant land, and the city must follow delicate rules before they go in.  The city's Police, Parks and Housing divisions have been assigned to take on the issue, but it won't be an easy solution.

"We're buying our houses," Kuhtz said. "We just want to take control and get it straightened up and cleaned up and take care of it."

Meanwhile, Action News 5 asked Council Chairman Myron Lowery what constituents should do in Ware's absence.

"The concerns are regularly given to Joe Brown, Janis Fullilove or myself because we are super district council people," Lowery said. "We will handle their concerns."

Kuhtz is also trying to get speed bumps in her neighborhood, but says she's taking this one issue at a time.

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