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Queens Residents Say Rats, Skunks From Overgrown Property Overtaking Street

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Residents in one Queens neighborhood are waging war against weeds that have taken over their street and the rodents that come along with them.

Along 79th Street in Middle Village, you won't find a friendlier neighbor than Jimmy Cassano, but he says the newest residents on his block have to go.

"The raccoons have moved in, the skunks, the possums, squirrels, rats, bugs -- everything else," he told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

Cassano said it all stems from a house in the neighborhood with a property so overgrown, it has become a haven for rodents and vermin.

"These people, they can't even leave their houses in the evening, the raccoons are on their porches," Cassano said of the situation.

He added that one lady's dog recently got sprayed by a skunk last week.

The unsightly, overgrown dump is grating on the nerves of nearly everyone on the block.

"There's skunks, there's possums, there's rats coming in and out all the time," Deneen Muller said. "When you come home at night -- I'm 60 years old, but you do go out -- I'm afraid to park there, it's nasty."

"It becomes scary where we weren't scared before," neighbor Vincent Polito said.

The city departments of sanitation and health have both been out to inspect the property, but their efforts have only left residents frustrated.

The owner owes more than $9,000 in property taxes and Health Department fines, but he hasn't lived at the residence for years and no one can seem to find him. Tax records list the owner as Andrew Wendling.

Health Department officials CBS 2 spoke with Friday admit the property is a health hazard and they've promised to clean it up themselves in the next few weeks.

However, residents in the neighborhood said they'll believe it when they see it.

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