House dispute can be solved amicably

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I was surprised to hear Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken's complaint about the property owned by Starkey Flythe ("Commissioner vexed over eyesore," Dec. 11), so I went by and looked at it.

Apart from a large magnolia tree partially obscuring the house and a lot of leaves in the front yard, I saw little wrong with it. There is an excavation by some utility near the street surrounded by protective barriers.

It's my understanding the property has been and continues to be occupied by a tenant, and is used several times per week by Mr. Flythe himself. This historic property was visited by Robert E Lee. Certainly there are hundreds of properties in much worse shape in Augusta, but obviously not all are next door to politicians.

Mr. Flythe has been harassed by the city, and I think the harassment should cease. Over many years this property has been used by tenants, often young people in transitional periods in their lives. My own son Andrew was a tenant in this house when he was a student, and now has a successful career. He was able to afford the low rent thanks to the kindness of Mr. Flythe. My son's major complaint about the house is that he would be awakened at 3 a.m. by train whistles. Train tracks are in the street just next to the house.

Note to Mr. Aitken: If he really wants to improve the neighborhood, why not try to work with the mayor and commission to get the tracks relocated?

Mr. Flythe is a distinguished lifelong resident of Augusta, and in his long career as an editor of The Saturday Evening Post and prize-winning author of poetry and novels, he has many friends and supporters here. I hope Mr. Aitken will work with those of us who respect Mr. Flythe to find a mutually satisfying conclusion to this unfortunate controversy. I know I speak for his many friends in offering my own efforts to help clear obstacles to neighborly tranquillity.

Thomas R. Swift, M.D.

Augusta

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Brad Owens
4932
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Brad Owens 12/16/10 - 07:04 am
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Dr. Swift is someone I wish

Dr. Swift is someone I wish we could get to serve on the Commission, he is a level headed and very smart man.

Starkey is an interesting person for sure. He has always been gracious and very nice to me when I have had dealings with him.

I think that it is funny that this has gotten so much direct action yet the Harrisburg folks have to march in front of houses to get anyone to notice the problems.

Brad

Austin Rhodes
3002
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Austin Rhodes 12/16/10 - 07:31 am
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That magnolia tree is an

That magnolia tree is an unmaintained menace. While most folks love the blossoms, magnolia leaves are Mother Nature's version of toxic waste.

Why Mr. Flythe doesn't recognize that and take proper action is an interesting question. It is his RIGHT to keep his property (within reason) to his liking, BUT, why would someone reasonable CHOOSE to do that ?

joebowles
104
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joebowles 12/16/10 - 09:40 am
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The reason the property

The reason the property doesn't look bad is that it was recently cleaned by a city crew because of the failure to maintain.

Brad Owens
4932
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Brad Owens 12/16/10 - 10:59 am
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Joe, why can't we get such

Joe, why can't we get such attention directed to properties that are real problems? A few limbs and leaves are one thing, running a crack/flop house is another.

You mean to tell me that we can send a clean up crew to do someting about magnolia leaves but we can't empower the Sheriff to go after serious property violations?

It is your committee in charge of this right?

Brad

Brad Owens
4932
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Brad Owens 12/16/10 - 11:09 am
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Double posting

Double posting

joebowles
104
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joebowles 12/16/10 - 12:01 pm
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There is no committee because

There is no committee because we have given our report. But having a house with vines all over and bushes grown up all around that is a haven for transients is a problem. While this house looks better than most in many neighborhoods Matt has been going through this process for 3 years I believe. I don't think he's getting any preferential treatment.

Hatfield0278
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Hatfield0278 12/16/10 - 02:22 pm
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Mr. Rhodes, I looked online

Mr. Rhodes, I looked online to try to get more information on the toxicity of magnolia leaves and didn't find much, except that they can be harmful to donkeys. Will you please say more about this?

Lori Davis
1014
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Lori Davis 12/16/10 - 03:07 pm
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I live in Harrisburg between

I live in Harrisburg between two houses that are empty. One has been maintained beautifully for over three years, and the other one was left to rot. Both owners are professionals in our community. The house that was not being maintained became a home for vagrants and prostitutes. After two years of dealing with this unsecured and rotting house, the owner has come into compliance. It was a hard struggle between Code Enforcement, the courts and me. Not sure about all of the situation with Mr. Flythe but what I do know is that if anyone had written a letter to the editor on behalf of the man who owns the house next door to me, I would not have been very happy about it. My next door neighbor is perfectly capable of maintaining his property and chose not to. Such I imagine is the fact with Mr. Flythe. One would have to live next to a nuisance property 24/7 to understand all that becomes involved and is not seen from a curbside visit.

Discussionstarter
501
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Discussionstarter 12/24/10 - 12:39 pm
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I can not believe the comment

I can not believe the comment from AR; Joe's was not much better. You two need to open your eyes! I go to church across from Matt's house; it is not that bad. I drive through Harrisburg many times a day and I work in that area. Harrisburg could be turned around if we all put our energy [i.e. governmental, etc.] to it. It appears Magnolia leaves are a bigger 'chronic nuisance'. AR and JB and MA... step up to the plate and do something; Augusta is tired of your rhetoric.

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