Georgetown man living off-the-grid fights with city to keep home
City tries to walk delicate balance between health and safety and property rights
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – A city tries to strike a delicate balance between protecting the health and safety of a neighborhood with the rights of a property owner.
This week, Georgetown carried out a court-order cleanup at the home of a retired professor who some would say lives an eccentric lifestyle. Others say it’s a nuisance and that his hoarding is a problem for their street.
Most people would say Stephen Price is a little different …He believes the best things in life are free and lives an off-the-grid lifestyle.
“The city wants to sell me water. I get all my water off the roof. They want to sell me electricity they want KU to sell me electricity. I don’t want electricity. I don’t know how to manage electricity I’m afraid of electricity,” states Price.
According to the Georgetown city ordinances, Price’s environmentally friendly ways aren’t exactly neighborhood-friendly.
“I have nothing against the human being, but he had to try to live with us as human beings,” explains William Corkins, a neighbor.
There’s a major expectation that residential property is kept in a proper manner. The way Price lives goes against just about every possible city code. Neighbors say it’s his life choice to live this way and it shouldn’t have to be theirs.
“If it was up to him we’d all live back in the 1850s, and I grew up that way. I don’t want to go back to that,” says Kay Synder, a neighbor.
His hoarding is a cause for a lot of problems, such as rodents, snakes, and a drop in property values.
The mayor tells WTVQ ABC 36 News that many options have been given to Price, including legal alternatives to help him keep his property and options for him to live elsewhere.
“He has refused any of the options that we’ve worked with him on and he has given himself zero flexibility,” explains Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather.
Because of the deplorable condition of his house, Price hasn’t lived in his home for a few years now so he’s been living on the land. He watches as machinery takes away the trash that he deems as treasure, including aluminum cans he’s collected to make shelter and trees he says he’s tended.
“All I wanted to do was produce something. I’ll bet you I’ve had 500 fruit trees out there that over the years they have taken down,” says Price.
Neighbors say they don’t like seeing this happen and that may be a more rural place would be better suited for him than Rucker Avenue in Georgetown, one of the state’s fastest-growing communities.
“I believe he’d be much better off living on his farm out in the country because then he can raise his crops without telling us how we are supposed to do it,” says Corkins.