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27 Investigates: Georgetown eyesore moves neighborhood battle to the courts

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

All month we've been investigating the worst eyesores in the Bluegrass. The place a viewer recommended us to check out even took us by surprise.

For years the home in Georgetown has caused a battle between its owner and his neighbors. Now the city has stepped in to try to force the owner to clean up his act.

Ask neighbors along Rucker Avenue what they think of the house at the end of the street, and one word comes up often.

"It's an eyesore," one neighbor said.

And it isn't just the house.

"This is a nice street," another neighbor insisted, "and he is nothing more than an eyesore."

He is Stephen Price. He's fought one court battle after another to keep his home the way he wants it. "The condition of my property is a function of horticulture," Price said during a recent visit.

Price has argued that his property is more than a home. For him, it's a way of life. "Everything supports a horticulture operation, and it says right there in Kentucky law," Price said waving a copy of a statute, "that it's exempt from nuisance ordinances."

That argument will eventually be decided by the courts, but in the meantime Price is having a hard time getting along with neighbors like Bill Corkins. "It would be nice if you could drive up the street, they would blend in with the other houses in the community," Corkins said about the properties Price owns.

But blending in is about the last thing Price wants. "That's why they created a residential zone: for the real estate industry, so that people reside. What does that mean?" Price asked before dropping to the ground to mimic a person sleeping, "Am, I going to spend my life on the ground for the real estate agent? No, man."

Price says his neighbors are the real problem. While they say his home hurts their eyes, he says their way hurts his ears. "This is my lawn mower," Price said emerging from his house holding a large scythe, "No noise, no gasoline, no foreign policy in Iraq, Iran, Venezuela."

"He starts to get on your nerves," Mark Meyers said of Price. Meyers lives in between the home where Price lives and another one Price also owns. "Live and let live," Meyers said, "This is a free country. I believe that I respect what you believe in, you respect me, but he has a hard time with that."

"What he wants to do is what he wants to do, but he wants the rest of us to do it his way," Corkins added.

Price is eager to expose you to his way, like his solar-powered water heater, or a rope he made from his garden, but sometimes he takes it a little too far. Price asked us to smell a handful of dirt, then eagerly explained what it used to be, "Septic waste from the house. Septic waste," he said.

Price says he's been burying septic waste for decades, and he doesn't see what the big deal is. "What about women, man, have babies," Price asked, "Don't they handle poop all the time? Why should a man be afraid of turning poop into fertilizer?"

Price wants more than just to win in court, his ultimate goal is to win over his neighbors, "where the whole town will be practicing horticulture the way it was in 1950," Price said.

The prospect may be paradise for Price, but for others, it's just disturbing. "You know, he walks around at night with a sickle in his hands," Meyers said, "He scared the daylights out of my brother."

"Like any neighbors, you have your good moments, and you have your moments of dispute," Price told us when we asked about getting along with the other homeowners.

Price's case is with a circuit judge in Scott County. Price recently asked for more time to prepare his defense, in part because he's had to tend his crops.

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