APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- At first glance the townhouse on the corner looks like all the others around it in this quiet cul de sac near Apple Valley High.

On closer inspection, however, you'll find the interior walls are covered in a mural of sorts.Look even closer, and you'll see it'spainted in mold.

"I've never seen damage so bad in my life, as far as mold's concerned," neighbor Scott Graham told KARE.

"You can see it clearly through the windows. It's on the walls. It's on the floor. It's on the ceilings."

Graham is one of the neighbors who spotted the moldy intruder in March while mowing his lawn. The townhouse, in the 8400 block of144th Street West,has been vacant for at least a year, he said.

According to the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, the Bank of America purchased the foreclosed home in asheriff's sale in January. It appears the original owners will make no effort to redeem the home before the July 3rd deadline.

"I actually figured one call to the county or city and they'd come in and condemn and, it'd start work on it immediately," Graham said.

"It's shocking that it's gotten this far that fast andhow long it's taking for them to try to fix something with it."

In April Apple Valley housing inspectors found a burst pipe in the first floor and shut off water service. That was consistent withutility recordsshowing a spike in water use compared to previous years.

By then standing water and high temperatures had created a hot house effect, the perfect breeding ground for the fuzzy fungus that now covers many of the flat surfaces. The wood plankson the first floorare also buckled and discolored.

Repairs Pending

Apple Valley's housing codes director contacted the environmental inspectors inDakota County's Public Health Department.In May they declared the townhouse a public health nuisance, and placed a placard on the doors declaring that entry is prohibited.

Jon Springsted, Dakota County's environmental specialist, told KARE that Bank of America is aware of the situation, and recently asked a contractor to inspect the damaged townhouse.

On Friday Springsted said that thecontractor had submitted a bid to Bank of America. He saidbank officials arecurrently in the process of reviewing that bid, and workmay begin fairly soon.

Springsted said city and countyinspectors plan to monitor that work, and make sure OSHA rules are followed and that neighbors are not exposed to any toxic materials.

Fortunately the three other town homes in the four-plex have separate, self-contained ventilation systems. That will, in theory, limit their exposure to any hazards caused by the mold spores.

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