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Neighbors complain for six months, junk finally cleaned up after WBRZ report

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BATON ROUGE- A disabled veteran and many of his neighbors said their complaints about an illegal business operating at a residential home fell on deaf ears, prompting a call to the WBRZ Investigative Unit.

Last month, we profiled the situation that exposed government at its worst. Now, the tenants have relocated and Metro Councilman Lamont Cole is considering law changes to speed up efficiency in the future.

Lawrenceen Wheeler is blind and said his attempts to rectify the situation next door did not work.

"I know if the mayor or the chief had a neighbor like mine, they would not tolerate that," Wheeler told us last month.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit captured motors, heavy machinery, generators and tree trucks all at the site. Thursday, the area was remarkably cleaner. Green and white sheets adorned the door showing non-compliance with city laws.

Thursday, the peace Wheeler has been yearning for returned.

"I can actually hear the birds signing," Wheeler said. "That means a lot."

The city got involved citing the homeowner and eventually filing a lawsuit. All of that is still pending. The snail's pace of getting things done caught the attention of Councilman Lamont Cole.

"I want to apologize to the members of the Fairfields community for having to deal with this as long as they have," Cole said. "As soon as I was made aware, my office began trying to take steps to rectify the situation."

Cole said the city is now cleaning up all the debris and junk the tenants left behind. The homeowner will get the bill once he appears in court.

Cole believes this egregious case highlights the need for changes.

"There's a process, and while some believe government moves too slow, there are some rights that property owners have and we have to follow the letter of the law in terms of doing it," Cole said. "So, maybe we can change some local legislation and ordinances to speed the process up."

For Wheeler and other residents, they're just happy the noisy neighbors are gone. They believe the spotlight shined on this issue made it happen.

"We would just like to thank you and Channel 2 for what all you done for us," Wheeler said. "It made a world of difference, it really has."

The homeowner of that property is due in court at the end of the month.


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