published Friday, February 11th, 2011

Rhea neighbors battle 'big rats'

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    Photo Kimberly McMillians Trash cans, soiled rags and abandoned vehicles barely concealed from the highway have stirred mixed reviews with residents in the Valley Brook area off state Highway 60 in Dayton, Tenn. Residents have sought help from the county to answer questions about where the boundaries of property rights and a violation of the Nuisance Law meet after "rats as big as cats" have wreaked havoc with insulation and other property.

Kimberly McMillian


DAYTON, Tenn.—After a year of repeated phone calls and visits with Rhea County officials, residents in the Valley Brook Village community soon may find a resolution for their "gopher-sized" problem.

That problem is rats. Big rats.

Last week, Rhea County Commissioner Bill Hollin told the county's Purchase and Finance Committee that he had received calls about the "rats as big as cats" in the neighborhood and that they're a nuisance to residents.

On Monday, Rhea County Attorney Carol Ann Barron said she had received similar calls "from time to time" about homes surrounded by big, smelly piles of trash. She said no formal action had been taken.

In law, a nuisance is an activity or condition that's harmful, annoying or causes offense. Those responsible for nuisances can be forced in court to deal with them.

Community resident Isaac Baker said he sometimes has "several" rats scampering over his yard.

Members of the nearby Watson family, who wouldn't give their first names, said that the "big, old gopher-sized" rodents had torn up insulation underneath their trailer.

Last week, Hollin took a tour of the neighborhood, but no rats were present. He said the near-freezing temperatures probably were responsible for their absence.

Barron said she compiled a resolution for the County Commission to review at this week's workshop and put it on the agenda for Tuesday's business meeting.

The resolution deals with "the regulation of nuisances and other practices detrimental to the inhabitants of the county" and gives the county authority to prohibit all things "detrimental ... to the health, morals, comfort" of its residents.

County rules already prohibit activities that will be obnoxious, annoying or unhealthful for other property owners.

There are 22 properties in the subdivision, according to the Rhea County property assessor's office. Riverbend Corp. in Ellijay, Ga., developed the area in 1990 and established restrictions for its property owners. Several attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

Valley Brook Village resident Winfred Cox said he contacted the Rhea County Health Department recently because he didn't know what to do about the rats and garbage. He said he was told that it wasn't in the department's jurisdiction "unless it was in a creek or raw sewage."

He said he had seen bags of trash lying around in neighbors' yards for months at a time.

"It doesn't cost anything" to throw away your trash, he said, and during the summer, "it smells worse."

Mrs. Watson said her family, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, has tried to sell their home for five years with no success.

"Problems do exist with the trash," she said. "It'll knock your [home] value down."

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bell

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dude_abides said...

Send 'em to Warner Park! They won't last a month. Wait, did these rats have ties and county vehicles?

February 11, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.
mrredskin said...

Does any "official" or govt. office in Rhea Co actually listen to their citizens about issues or contracts that are being breached? Doesn't sound like it.

February 11, 2011 at 7:53 a.m.
rvmeloncon said...

It looks like they have a law about littering or the Broad of Health could step in being that could cause a lot of Health problems in the area.Somebody that does not care about other people life's must not be much to them. If they leave garbage out like that I sure would hate to see their house on the inside.God help us what this world is coming to.

February 11, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
carri said...

Why do they not clean the area up. light a match and have a bon fire. What pigs clean up your mess. Stinky

February 11, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.
cannonball said...

It's not the governments job to keep your place clean. I agree with carri. Burn that crap and have some fun shooting the rats. A cheap 22 cal. rifle will do the trick.

February 11, 2011 at 5:44 p.m.
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