A growing problem

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A plan to change the city of Selma’s weed abatement ordinance drew favorable comments from city leaders and could mean higher bills to derelict property owners within the city limits.

In an effort to crack down on those property owners who are repeatedly served with code enforcement violations, city officials are looking at amending the ordinance to allow city work crews to respond more quickly to problem properties.

“Right now it is a big problem,” Selma code enforcement officer Daryl Moore said. “This change is a good thing, giving us a chance to avoid some delays and clear up a piece of property sooner.”

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Currently, when a property has grass or weeds exceeding 12 inches and has not been cut, the property could be declared a nuisance by the code enforcement office. The case is then processed through city departments, including the city council, before city crews are ordered to cut and clean the property.

The process right now takes in excess of three weeks.

Once the property is addressed by the city, an invoice is sent to the property owner at a rate of 2 percent of the property’s size; meaning if a lot is 24,000 square feet, the property owner will be sent an invoice for $480.

If the invoice is not paid, the city has the authority to place a “weed lien” on the property until the balance is cleared up.

But Moore said some property has to be repeatedly cited and the entire process has to be restarted each time the property is declared a nuisance.

With the proposed change, after a property has already been declared a nuisance and advances through the process to being cleared by city crews and charged, the property can again be cleared when needed without notification being given.

“This will allow us to address a problem when it becomes one, rather than having to restart the process over again,” Moore said. “It gives the public works team the chance to handle the problem when it needs to be handled.”

City attorney Jimmy Nunn told the Selma City Council during their meeting Tuesday, the city of Anniston changed their weed abatement ordinance in a similar fashion and it has not been challenged.
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