Makeshift homes could be outlawed in North Courtland

Officials are working toward a solution after two men died inside a shed-like home from what police think was carbon monoxide poisoning.

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 10:11 PM
Updated: Nov 14, 2018 5:47 PM

Makeshift homes may soon be illegal in North Courtland if they’re not up to code. The most recent push for change comes after two men died in a structure from what police said was carbon monoxide poisoning. Police told WAAY 31 there was a generator inside the home when they found the men.

"What these storage buildings are basically is a shell," North Courtland Police Chief Spencer Butler said.

WAAY 31 talked to North Courtland residents who agree: these homes aren't safe without major upgrades.

"Small window, one door and one way out. That's unsafe there," North Courtland resident, Sterling Crayton, said.

Butler is trying to make the shed-like homes illegal.

"We just want to make it feasible to where nobody is overcome by some kind of toxic fumes," Butler said.

He said the makeshift homes started popping up about a year ago.

"As it stands now, it's no way we can make it illegal for them to have them," Butler said.

Butler said he and the Lawrence County probate judge met last week and are trying to figure out a solution.

"They gotta have running water. They gotta be able to have electric outlets, and they gotta be able to be feasible in case something happens, they'll be able to exit out of them also," Butler said.

Crayton said he's familiar with these buildings and agrees with Butler.

"When they have a fire, they wouldn't have but one way out, and the fire might be where they need to get out at," Crayton said.

Emergency responders in North Courtland said that the buildings are also a hassle for emergency responders because these makeshift homes don't have registered city addresses.

"We know who lives there persay by word of mouth, but as far as a physical location if something was to happen, we don't know," Butler said.

Butler said he and the county probate judge are still doing their research and preparing to present their findings to the North Courtland City Council in hopes of seeing an ordinance passed that would outlaw the improper homes.

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