The Union Recorder

Local News

June 20, 2014

Safe property ordinance hearing approaches

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County Commissioners want Environmental Compliance Officer Marion Nelson to have better enforcement tools against junk filled yards and blighted structures.

Just how sharp those tools will be is still debatable.

The county seems serious about eradicating blighted areas such as dilapidated buildings, unmaintained swimming pools and outdoor junk storage.

An all-encompassing “Baldwin County Safe Property Ordinance” will be up for public hearing Tuesday, July 1.

The ordinance's purpose is to establish minimum requirements and standards for premises and structures in order to promote and protect the public health, safety, convenience, order and general welfare of the citizens of the county.

“This article shall apply to all commercial, office, industrial, multi-family and single-family residential structures and premises and shall constitute the minimum requirements and standards for existing structures and premises,” the ordinance proposal says.

Nelson said at some point the county has to draw a line in the sand with property owners.

The county's environmental compliance office receives numerous inquiries from citizens and realtors concerning blighted properties affecting nearby property aesthetics.

Outdoor motor vehicle storage of inoperable vehicles is a recurring county issue.

The current 24-hour restriction ordinance proposal on inoperable vehicle storage was lengthened to two weeks after Commissioner Sammy Hall spoke at Tuesday's regular meeting.

“Anybody can have a dead battery and maybe can't get it fixed in 24 hours,” he said.

The county should set a number of allowable vehicles as well, according to Hall.

The “tuned up” document will be posted on the county website prior to the public hearing.

County resident Wendy Dixon spoke to the board Tuesday.

She said the ordinance would make her a criminal.

“I live at the corner of two streets. There is no backyard,” Dixon said. “You would fine me out of my home.”

Dixon said it takes 20 loads in a borrowed truck to deal with debris and waste.

“I still have stuff in my yard. I don't have a place to hide it,” she added. “I've tried to keep my place up and done really well for what I had. I'm highly offended by this.”

Richard Mueller told commissioners to stay the course.

“I commend all of you for revisiting the blight ordinance issue. I want to live in a community that has pride in itself and where people respect their neighbors and the value of their neighbors’ property,” Mueller said.

He said abandoned vehicles, dilapidated buildings and litter of all kinds are obstacles to economic development goals.

“I'd rather see us move incrementally that not move at all,” Mueller said.

View a draft of the ordinance proposal here:



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