FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) - "I mean, which bothers you worse, my little 12-inch-by-12-inch sign or looking at a 3,000-square-foot house that's not meeting our standards and city code," the creator of the signs, John Reid, said.
A 12-by-12 sign with the crossed-out phrase slum lord lines Frankfort's sidewalks. Reid, a landlord himself, created the signs for himself and several other community members a few months ago. These days his signs can can be seen all around the city of Frankfort because he said other landlords own homes and apartments that are unfit for living.
"The definition of a slum lord is somebody that is breaking the ordinances, not following our standards of living in our city of Frankfort. We have a set of standards and rules and bylaws that they need to follow that have been in effect for many years. This is not something that has happened over night," Reid said.
Reid said he wants to see new ordinances put in place so all rental properties are inspected once a year. Reid said a lot of community members are behind him.
"I've talked to several commercial landlords here in town and they actually think it's pretty funny because the other landlords are being called to light on it. The landlords that have property here in town that keep it up and above standards, there's no issues. They know that. It's not hurting them," Reid said.
Property owner Garney Jenkins, who has more than 40 rental properties and has been renting homes in Frankfort for more than 45 years, feels differently.
"Well, it's kind of degrading," Jenkins said about the signs. "It's not only degrading to me but it's degrading to the community."
Jenkins said there are other ways to address the problem other than signs.
"I think the right way is to get together with the community leaders and work it out that way," Jenkins said.
Mayor Chris McBarnes said he's not choosing sides in the matter and said as far as having the signs removed from the city that's something that won't happen.
"This is a right," McBarnes said about the signs. "Freedom of speech that folks like my grandfather fought for and we will in no way impede upon that and if those citizens feel like they're doing their community good by putting those signs in their yards, here in America we live in a free country and they have every right to do so."
Reid said he wants to see the signs removed more than anyone, but said they'll stay until he sees change.
Mayor McBarnes said the city of Frankfort has two building inspectors who have responded to nearly 800 complaints in the past nine months. McBarnes said the city will continue to make sure all residents are living in safe conditions.
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