Snakes, rats plague Southside residents

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-21 19:24:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Some people living on Richmond’s Southside are worried about high grass at derelict homes. That's because rats and snakes have taken up residence at the properties.

The neighbors contacted CBS 6 News after they complained to the city and nothing was done.

"Somebody needs to do something about it. I’ve been complaining about it for months," said one woman who lives on Gordon Avenue. “Rats and snakes coming out of here.  I'm scared they're going to come on my property and start getting into my household."

Neighbor Gloria Harris, who said that one South Richmond home with high grass is a particular eyesore, is fed up after complaining to the city on several times.

"Of course, it brings the property value down because people ride through looking for places to live,” said Harris. “And they don't want to live anywhere that looks like this."

And another resident said she her main worry is that one of the snakes will bite a child in the neighborhood.

CBS 6 News took the neighbors’ concerns to Richmond's Department of Public Works.

"When you own a property, whether you live in that property or not, it's your responsibility to make sure it's maintained," said Sharon North, Richmond Public Works spokesperson.

North pointed out that property owners are responsible for keeping their grass cut. However, the city will come out and cut if they are unable to contact the owner -- and the grass reaches 12 inches or higher.

North also said that the department is short-staffed and underfunded. As a result, they have been pulling people from other areas of the department to do the work.

"We've been bringing in temporary employees to help out through the rest of the summer because we knew that we were starting behind the eight ball,” said North.

North says DPW also maintains the median strips, city playgrounds and schools.

"Everywhere you go money is a factor in this day and age and the city is no different,” said North. “We're all making do with what we have.  We're all doing more with less."

However, Harris said she cannot stand by and watch her neighborhood fall into disrepair.

"The economy is bad, but still, we shouldn't have to suffer because of it," said Harris.