CLEVELAND - Lee Brickey has been living next to a vacant home in his Cleveland neighborhood for more than three years. Now, Brickey is concerned dead trees on his neighbor's property are threatening the safety of his family.
Brickey showed NewsChannel5 how huge limbs from the dead trees are towering over his home, one of the massive limbs hangs over his daughter's bedroom.
One of the dead trees is even anchoring a power line, installed by Cleveland Public Power. The line runs to Brickey's backyard, and powers a safety light, that costs the Marine veteran $14 a month.
"With the electric wire being attached to a dead tree, and with the Cleveland winters, I'm worried about safety," said Brickey. "That tree is less than 5-6 feet from my house, if that electrical wire makes contact with my aluminum siding, it could be bad."
Brickey is also concerned the condemned home will attract thieves, vandals and an arsonist.
"Our homes are close together on this street, if there was a fire next-door, my house wouldn't stand a chance, said Brickey. "I've called the city, Cleveland Public Power, and tried to track down the owner of the house, with no results."
NewsChannel5 Troubleshooter Joe Pagonakis took the case, and discovered the owner of the condemned home is current with her property taxes, but lives in Wisconsin.
5 On Your Side has also contacted Cleveland Public Power, Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins, and the Stockyard Clark-Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development office in the search for a solution.
Councilman Cummins believes as many as 800 vacant homes threaten the safety of neighborhoods in three of Cleveland's west side wards.
Meanwhile, Brickey must now use a cane, after he was given a medical discharge from the Marines, due to a neurological disorder.
"I would try to cut down the limbs myself, but I can't raise my arms above my head, and I can't stand very long," said Brickey.
NewsChannel5 will follow-up on this developing story.
Residents dealing with issues created by vacant homes, can contact their city building department to get the latest information on the status of a condemned property.
Homeowners should also work with their city council member, and other residents in the neighborhood, to promote a solution.
NewsChannel5 is also trying to spark neighborhood involvement by residents, who can make a difference when it comes to vacant and condemned properties.
We're inviting residents to report nuisance properties through our Building Better Neighborhood initiative.
Just send us pictures and information on vacant homes in your neighborhood and we'll forward the information to your city building department, in an effort to move the properties to progress.
We are also giving residents information on how they can volunteer in their neighborhoods to make them better. Those interested in starting a volunteer effort in their neighborhood should contact Hands on Northeast Ohio for more information.