Neighbors decorate dilapidated Winston-Salem home in hopes of getting tree removed

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Halloween decorations on Ebert Street are what you'd expect -- perfectly-carved pumpkins and ghoulish ghosts high in the trees -- until you get to the "vacant one."

That's what neighbors not-so-affectionately call the brick house built in the 1950s that has a giant tree through the roof. Sue Mueller said it's been there since July, and because the house has been vacant for years, no one has touched it.

"It's extremely frustrating," Mueller said. "It's making our neighborhood look not very nice, and we really haven't heard anything."

That's how she and fellow neighbor, George Lemons, decided it was time to take advantage of the Halloween season and decorate the dilapidated home, in hopes of calling attention to the overgrowth.

The decoration display includes caution tape near a downed power lined, beer bottles found in the yard and a giant banner that reads "I'm tired of being here" hanging by the tree.

"I'd love to see the tree come off of the house, I don't think it's so bad that it can't be fixed up," Mueller said.

A spokesperson with the City of Winston-Salem said staff is aware of the state of the home. An inspection completed in August, after the tree fell through the roof, revealed seven code violations. A representative with the Forsyth County Tax Administration office said the property has more than $8,000 in delinquent property taxes.

Lemons said neither the city or the county will be getting paid anytime soon, because the two brothers who owned the home literally can't.

"[John] passed on around 2013 or 2014 and Bob passed on in 2012," Lemons said.

Lemons said he would know, because his father built the home and he grew up with the family that moved in. The parents passed away in the 1980s and Lemons said their two sons, who the county confirmed are listed on the deed, died just a few years ago.

Lemons hopes his decorations will get the attention of city and county officials to get moving to remove the tree and to figure out a next step so the home and neighborhood can be restored to what they once were.

The tax administration office added that the home is listed in foreclosure because of the outstanding taxes.

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