Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Preserving Annesdale - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Preserving Annesdale

There's no shortage of blight in Memphis. It even extends into some of the city's historic residential districts.

Now, a neighborhood dispute over rundown property is headed to court as one resident tries to take back his neighborhood.
Hurricane Katrina forced Andrew McGill to move.

"We saw the historic fabric of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi taken apart by that storm."
McGill rebuilt his life in Memphis' historic Annesdale Park in Midtown, the type of neighborhood he says he was in search of.

"We wanted to do it in a historic neighborhood because that's where we're comfortable."

But McGill wasn't comfortable with dilapidated homes that his neighbors refused to repair.
"There are properties with piles of debris, roofs in very poor condition," he said. "And once water starts entering a home, it's a death nail to an old house."
After reaching out to the owners of those rundown properties and receiving no response, McGill took action.
He's now suing William and Melissa Benson under the Neighborhood Preservation Act of Tennessee. The Bensons declined to comment because they have not yet been to court.
Attorney Steve Barlow is working McGill's case for free.
"I hope that we've identified and developed a tool that can be helpful to deal with the problem of blight," he said.
Barlow says the idea of the neighborhood preservation act isn't to punish property owners - it's just to get them to clean up.
And in the Annesdale case, he says: "We're requesting that the court either enforce a repair schedule or appoint a third party receiver to take care of the property or manage it back into community standards."
McGill admits the lawsuit has caused some tension is his neighborhood, and he says "the results are worth the tension."

Click here to e-mail Ursula Madden.
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