St. Clair County officials want to raze a home south of Belleville that had housed as many as 28 cats and is contaminated with waste and odor, officials said.
Building and Zoning Director Anne Markezich said the elderly woman who owns the house at 412 Aaron Drive has been removed from the property and county Animal Services has been working with code enforcers since June 11 to remove and catch as many cats as they can.
Markezich said 15 cats have been captured and removed, but the county cannot enter the home without clearance from the St. Clair County state's attorney's office.
"It's a very slow process," Markezich said. "They are wild cats and we are trying to catch them. The lady is not living at the residence anymore and there is pending liability with the state's attorney's office to get a court order to demolish the house."
Markezich said the house is not salvageable and neighbors are concerned about potential health hazards.
"I truly understand that when you can smell the stench from the street, that's what the neighbors are complaining about," she said. "They can't sit outside because you can smell the stench."
Jason Kelley lives next door and said he has had to bomb his house twice this week because of the flies that have swarmed around his and his next-door neighbor's property.
"You can hardly go in the backyard on a hot day," Kelley said. "We barbecue a lot, and it stinks so bad."
Larry Fahrner lives two doors down from the property and next door to Kelley's house.
"The smell is just disgusting," Fahrner said.
On Thursday afternoon, four cats were sitting and walking around the front yard. The house appears dilapidated. Siding is missing, a portion of the backyard fence has fallen and the lawn has not been mowed.
Markezich said the county wants to demolish the home and catch as many cats as possible.
"That's our goal," she said. "We're going out there with Animal Control on a daily basis trying to get them out and lure them out by setting traps, but we're not sure if there were 26 or 28 cats. I don't know how many more we're looking for."
Animal Control Director Jim Jacquot could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.