Time Running Out for ‘Unsafe’ Mockingbird House

The Highland Park Town Council could soon hire a contractor to demolish what members consider an unsafe house at 4509 Mockingbird Lane.

(ABOVE: Scott Brei speaks to town leaders about his desire to repair his house. Photo by William Taylor)

Unsatisfied with the lack of progress a month after ordering Scott Brei to repair, remove, or demolish his house, council members asked town staff to seek bids from contractors and bring back recommendations for the council meeting on July 22.

“I am indigent.” -Scott Brei

“Actions speak louder than words, and we’ve seen no action,” council member Craig Penfold said. “I don’t think he has the ability to fix this house.”

Council members in June told Brei to obtain a conclusive engineer’s report, a contractor’s scope of work and schedule, and building permits. He did not.

He did bring letters town officials had seen before and attorney James Francis, who described troubles getting a canceled insurance check reissued.

“It looks like to me the man is trying his very best to get the house repaired,” Francis said.

Town officials have been trying to get Brei to begin repairs to the property for months.

“The town got involved in March, but it is clear from Kirk (Smith, assistant director of town services) and the fire marshal the disrepair did not begin in March,” Mayor Margo Goodwin said.

Two mothers of Brei’s children addressed the council again in July, noting Brei remained in arrears on child support and mortgage payments and had gone through a bankruptcy filing. One of them, Anne Marie Hurlbut, expressed her surprise that he had brought an attorney after telling a judge in her case recently that he was indigent and needed an appointed one.

“I am indigent,” he said. He explained he would use insurance money and a yet-to-be obtained loan from family to make repairs.

Brei didn’t address any specific claims made by his exes and neighbors but expressed frustration that he couldn’t work the matter out with the town without the “the background noise of my personal affairs.”

Council member Eric Gambrell countered that the comments from the mothers were relevant because they addressed “your ability to make repairs.”

Brei’s neighbors complained of him using the property illegally to sell cars and hold frequent yard sales with his customers often encroaching on their properties.

“The owner threatened to kill me if I called the police again,” Kristine Daniels said. “His wife told me he didn’t like us because we are from California.”

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *