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Hearing held for Normandy’s ‘distressed property’

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 7:55 am


A hearing was held last Monday at the Normandy Town Hall for residents to voice their displeasure at the distressed property at 104 Division St.

The hearing was in regards to repeated violations of the town’s ordinance #2017-4 – called the “Slum Clearance Ordinance”- which complies with TCA 13-21-101.

The one-story, brick house was built in 1964 and belongs to Timothy Russell ‘Rusty’ Murphy and Amanda Murphy.

Under the ordinance, the mayor acted as the public officer in order to deem the property unfit for human habitation.

A remediation effort was made by the town a year ago, where Normandy spent $11,000 in public funds to help clean up the exterior of the Murphy property.

But since then, “Things have kind of deteriorated back to its former state despite those expenses,” said Mayor Charles Whitaker. “All of that being the consideration for the fact the structure is unfit for human habitation due to the vermin infestation — particularly large rodents — and no water utility, no electricity — at least part of the time — windows missing, and no ability to heat the house, squalid interior conditions.

“To our knowledge there’s no provision for human waste disposal and at this point the structure itself is failing, considering there are numerous missing windows and the roof itself is beginning to shed shingles.”

Rusty Murphy was present for the hearing and was given the opportunity to make a case for himself. Which he did.

“I’m sorry. I really am. I didn’t set out to get to this point,” Murphy said. “There’s no excuse for it, I know, but I have some battles that make it real hard for me to stay on top of it.”

He said he did have Terminix come last Wednesday to address the rodent issue.

“If you ever see anybody over there cleaning, you’ll only ever see me. A lot of my stumbling blocks are right inside my family.

“The last thing I want is to walk out of here with nothing. I paid my house off; I worked real hard,” he said, citing he had been a manager at a Zaxby’s for five years, then had his own restaurant in Brentwood until 2020. Additionally, he added he’s been dealing with “terminal illness.”

He said he is planning to move out of town. “Nobody sets out to be in this position,” he said again. “I don’t feel welcome in this town. I don’t feel liked by anybody, and I’ve given y’all reason for that.”

For purposes of the record, Town of Normandy attorney Tamra Smith questioned Murphy on some of the claims brought up during the hearing.

“You have to admit that those conditions exist at present regarding the rats and the photographs that were submitted?”

“Yeah, it needs attention,” Murphy replied.

“Is there proper public water?” Smith asked.

“We get water from Walmart.”

“But there’s not public service?”

“No, not from public utilities,” said Murphy.

In a similar style, Smith asked about electricity, which Murphy said had only been off for one day but had been restored to the house.

“Do you and your family sleep in the residence or do you sleep in a vehicle?” Smith asked.

“Hotels…we’re trying to work on the house,” said Murphy.

“But you do not sleep in the residence?” asked Smith, to which Murphy shook his head.

A representative from Curl Construction, on behalf of Normandy, was present to deliver a report regarding the value of the property and the predicted cost of remediation.

She said, based on a site-visit and photos provided, they estimate the value of property is about $100,000 as is. Tax appraisal is $205,000, but they take in current condition of property.

Based on the assumption the structure is still viable, the remodel could range from $50-$75 per square foot, totaling up to an average of $106,000.

Smith explained, “The statute and ordinance indicate that if it is going to cost more than half the value of the property to remediate the residence, then the property can be demolished.”

The ordinance requires five letters of complaint from residents within the city of limits. But a dozen of letters showed up along with several citizens to comment during the hearing.

Resident Randy Prince commented, “You’ve brought it on yourself. You’ve piled on the mess in there…You have to have some consideration for your neighbors.”

His wife, Tina Prince, added, “It’s so unfair to everybody.”

Jerry Fox, who tries to look at Normandy through his “guests’ eyes,” said, “Is there any pride in the ownership of that house?”

Shirley Langston, who organizes Normandy’s Farmers Market, said, “When you’re out there selling and your customers bring it to your attention that there’s rats…and video it.”

“There seems to be a lot of pride in everyone’s property, but that one is beyond the pale,” said Alderman Glenda Pendell.

“We’ve done all we can do to remediate the situation,” said Whitaker. “Our efforts are met with failure and we feel it is time to move on to something a bit different.”

Smith said the mayor’s findings will be reduced to an order that will be sent to Murphy and registered with Register of Deeds Office.

Murphy said he plans to appeal the hearing’s conclusion that the house is uninhabitable in the next 60 days with the Chancery Court of Bedford County.