Board of Aldermen hear neighborhood complaints

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Susie Stringfellow, Margaret Bridgers and Linda Hawkins, who all live in the neighborhood behind the courthouse in Poplarville, came before the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night asking the members to do something about junked cars, trash, and loose dogs and cats in their neighborhood.

“I have lived in Poplarville 84 years, and it seems that right now, Poplarville is at its lowest, and not too much promise. And we need to do something, the whole town. …. Pride has been lost,” Stringfellow said.

Bridgers said she just recently moved into a house close to Stringfellow, and was apprehensive about purchasing the home because of several rusted cars at a neighbor’s home, as well as another neighbor that has numerous dogs and cats in their yard.

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“We were told and hoping that there was an ordinance to take care of three junks, and I’m talking about junk cars. I mean they’re rusted out and good for nothing. And then (my neighbors have) these 13 dogs and the fleas are just getting everywhere,” said Bridgers.

Hawkins said her neighbor has several junk cars, trucks and boats, and will not do anything with any of them.

Poplarville Mayor Billy Spiers told the women that City Attorney Martin Smith has been working on an ordinance to deal with the junk cars. Spiers said the city has an ordinance, but that it is not as comprehensive as it should be.

“If people have an antique, they need to be on the inside of a garage, or either covered up where somebody can’t see it.… We’ve never really (had) what you call an ordinance that had ‘teeth’ in it,” Spiers said.

Spiers said there is already an ordinance about animals in town, but acknowledged that the ordinance does not restrict the number of dogs or cats a citizen may have.

“The chief brought me a copy of the animal ordinance. It is 15 pages long and appears to be very, very comprehensive. I suggested … that the chief and I sit down with the city prosecutor and go through the existing ordinance that we have to see what all is covered … and any amendments that might be needed,” Smith said.

Later in the meeting, Smith told the board he had obtained copies of ordinances from several cities such as Vicksburg, Biloxi, Jackson and Ridgeland to use to develop a new city ordinance for junked cars.

“The first four sections describe what (junk) vehicles are and state that for those to be allowed to exist on public or private property constitutes a public nuisance and is punishable under this act. It provides that any person that allows these things to happen can be found guilty of allowing a public nuisance and can be fined up to $500 or 90 days in jail. It’s like a misdemeanor,” Smith said.

Cars would need to be kept behind closed doors or screened from public sight, Smith said. A car cover, even if specifically designed for the car, would be unsuitable.

The ordinance defines an abandoned or junk vehicle as “including but not limited to such which does not have lawfully fixed thereto both an unexpired license plate and a valid motor vehicle safety inspection certificate.”

“If you have a vehicle sitting in your driveway that doesn’t have a current tag and a current inspection sticker, even if it’s operable, it’s an abandoned vehicle … if it’s left for a period of five days,” Smith said.

Bill Hawkins came before the board to compliment the Poplarville Police and Fire Departments.

“I just came up to tell you that the police department and the fire department over the past two years has done a good job. They’re Johnny-on-the-spot,” Hawkins said.

The board also received bids for sidewalk repairs from Kanduit Construction for $79,600 and from Holliday Construction for $89,225. The board accepted the lower bid.

A bid from Kanduit Construction for $48,800 for an addition to the police department was rejected, and the board voted to advertise for bids for a third time on the project.

In other business, the board:

— Voted to replace flow meter at wastewater plant.

— Voted to purchase two cars for the police department.

— Voted to hire a new police officer, Levi Ledlow, effective July 3.

— Appointed Kurt Guthrie as the new city prosecutor, effective July 2.