The residents of John Ross Road in rural Anacoco are speaking out about the unsightly abandoned trailers on their road.
For several years the residents on John Ross Road have been forced to look at two abandoned trailers that have become home to feral cats, snakes and other wild animals.
Both trailers sit on completely overgrown land of brush and weeds with no visible driveway or entrance.
Both have busted out windows and their doors are either missing or hanging wide open. The single-wide trailer that sits at the beginning of John Ross Road is also missing several pieces of aluminum siding that have left gaping holes allowing passersby to see into it.
Twice since May 2018, the residents who live on the dead-end road have asked the Vernon Parish Police Jury for help by forcing the owners to clean up the properties and still nothing has been done.
John and Donna Ross are two such residents who are speaking out. The couple has owned several acres along John Ross Road since the early 1980s.
In 1987 they built the home they currently live in: a nice brick ranch style home with a manicured lawn they work hard to maintain.
Beginning last year they started building a second home directly across the street from one of the dilapidated trailers.
This particular trailer was literally dumped on a small slip of land by the brother of the property owner. After the first request for help was made in May 2018 the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality got involved and tried to force the owner to remedy the situation.
As a solution, the brother moved in transients under the guise of “fixing the place up”. The neighbors began seeing different cars with out of state license plates, and multiple strangers walking down the road coming and going at the property all hours of the day and night.
This then led to multiple calls being made to the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Department for reports of suspicious activity and officers began patrolling the area more frequently in an effort to deter any criminal activity.
After a few weeks, the transients left and nothing more was done to fix the situation. Instead, the property owner signed the strip of land over to her brother removing herself from the situation completely.
For the last three years, Stacy Jenkins lives just thirty feet from this trailer. She said that when the transient was living in the trailer he had no electric or water and he was burning candles at night for light.
In May 2018 Jenkins wrote a letter to the Vernon Parish Police Jury listing her concerns about the rundown trailer. During the winter time, she has encountered several of the feral cats under her home where it is warm. The feral cats also prey on her chickens and are a health hazard to her other animals.
Less than a half a mile up John Ross Road sits the second abandoned dilapidated trailer. This one is a double-wide trailer that suffered a fire several years ago and after an attempt to repair it the owner gave up and reportedly sold it to a construction company in Leesville.
As of this writing, nothing has been done to repair the home or remove it and it too is overrun with feral cats.
The neighbor closest to this trailer is Debra Partridge who has lived on her property that sits at the end of John Ross Road since 2000. She wrote a letter to the police jury dated May 8, 2018 where she tells the police jury that because of the feral cats her chicken flock has been reduced from 30 chickens to just one.
Now she has none because she was fighting a losing battle with the feral cats in trying to keep her chickens alive.
Partridge also told the police jury that she had to install a fence in an effort to keep the feral cats and wild animals off her land. She has an outdoor sandbox for her grandchild to play in but he never gets to play in it because the cats have been using it as a litter box.
Marvin Hilton is the Vernon Parish Police Jury District Two Representative. He said that he completely understands the frustration of the residents on John Ross Road.
He is doing what he can to get the situation taken care of but it is extremely difficult to make any changes when there are no ordinances or laws in place to prevent this from happening.
Hilton explained that back in the 1990s the police jury passed an ordinance that gave the police jury the power to control what landowners could and could not do on their property.
The ordinance was met with an extreme amount of opposition by angry landowners and the ordinance was eventually repealed.
Many of those police jury representatives who repealed the last ordinance did so because they do not want to infringe upon landowners rights to do with their property as they wish.
But what about the rights of the property owners who live near these abandoned trailers?
Not only are the properties unsafe, but they also pose several health hazards and they are the perfect property in a prime location for criminal activity. But most damaging of all is they have the potential to lower the property values of those who spent hard earned money to buy their own property.
Additionally the Ross’s may have a difficult time renting out the second home they are building because no one will want to have the view of the trashy abandoned trailer right outside their front door.
At the February police jury meeting the Ross’s presented the second formal written request for help from the police jury. This time it included a petition signed by twenty-six other residents who all live within a half mile from John Ross Road.
It is clear that times have changed and what was accepted by the people of the parish thirty years ago is clearly not what is accepted today.
Unfortunately changes do not happen for the better and there is no progress when the same officials who repealed the ordinances then are the same ones refusing to make them now.