Rincon City Council has approved changes to how it will handle violations and enforcement of its nuisance ordinance.
Among the changes to the ordinance are stipulations on the upkeep of lots and detention ponds, the time allowed to have garbage carts out on the street before and after pickup and ensuring 911 address remain visible. At their Aug. 11 meeting, council members delved into the enforcement aspect of the ordinance.
“The last time we really didn’t get into it because of the other changes that needed to be made,” said council member Paul Wendelken.
City planning director Lameisha Kelly said the city typically sends a certified letter to a resident or property owner to notify them of a nuisance violation.
“A phone call doesn’t trigger a notice,” she said.
Kelly said the city will call someone if the violation is considered minor and a certified letter is sent regarding more serious infractions. Violators are given 10 days to comply with city laws, and if they don’t do so by a third notice, they are brought before the council.
“We’re trying to change that,” Kelly said.
“If it’s something minor, we’ll call them. For more serious offenses, we do a certified letter. At this time, we give them 10 days to comply. If they don’t comply after a third time, they come before council. “We’re trying to change that,” Kelly said.
Wendelken said he thought two notifications of a violation was reasonable and that three is too many.
“I want to streamline it,” he said, “but I don’t want to streamline it so much it doesn’t come before council. I want to allow them to tell their side of the story.”
The city will work with property owners if they show that they have a plan to address the issue, Kelly said.
“We don’t present a hardship,” she said. “If they have a plan of action and they have started the process, we give them time.”
Kelly noted there is the opportunity to appeal to city council. Under the ordinance, the person accused of violating the nuisance ordinance to have at least a 10-day notice to show cause why the situation should not be abated.
If the council deems as a result of that hearing a nuisance does exist, the violator has 10 days to comply. Each day a violation continues is considered to be a separate offense.
The ordinance also spells out that any collection of waste material or other matter, such as pet feces, that leads to a breeding ground for mosquitoes, a feeding place for rats or is a source of unsanitary conditions or foul odors also is a nuisance.
City attorney Raymond Dickey advised having the notices and warnings delivered in person, rather than by certified mail, warning it could be signed for by someone at the house who isn’t the property owner. He also said the city has to determine how it will go about cleaning up properties and how the city will recover the money spent in those efforts. Dickey said the city could take the matter through its court system and levy a fine and also treat it as a civil matter, placing a lien on the property.
“If they won’t clean it up or resolve the lien, then the city sells the property,” he said.
The city recently dealt with an issue where someone had a large number of tires on their property, and the city started both processes. A fine was handed down and restitution was ordered.
“Within a week, they came up and paid the full $11,000 to the city,” Dickey said.