Aldermen vote to begin enforcing city property ordinance

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Poplarville Board of Aldermen put its seal of approval on measures to enforce the property maintenance ordinance within the city limits.

The board gave building inspector Marcie Johnson the go-ahead to begin sending out letters to property owners to clean up property which has fallen into disrepair or is posing health risks to neighbors.

Once a property owner receives a letter from the city requesting cleanup, the property owner has 30 days to comply with the ordinance. If the owner does not clean the property, the city will ultimately contract out the cleanup. The city will then go through municipal court proceedings to request a lien on the owner’s real estate for the value of the cleanup.

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At an earlier meeting, the board had thought the ordinance said a lien would be placed on the owner’s taxes. That was incorrect, said city attorney Martin Smith. The property maintenance ordinance states the lien would be placed on the real estate.

One area on Pine Street in question was addressed by resident Barbara Miller. An abandoned home at 402 South Pine has become overrun by cats. The property has become not only an eyesore, but a health hazard, said Miller and Kathy Davis, also a neighbor.

Davis, a nurse, said she is concerned for the safety of her six-year-old triplet granddaughters who play at her home.

“My concern is for their health,” she said. “Cat feces are extremely dangerous and can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis.”

Miller said she walked into the open home with animal control officer Al Tynes. She said they had to lay down boards to walk into the home because it was laden with cat feces.

Both Miller and Davis said the stench is terrible.

“There needs to be a resolution soon,” said Davis. “Summer is coming and when it does, it’s going to be really bad. I can smell it from my back porch.”

Miller said she, too, wants a resolution soon. With summer approaching the cats will bring an infestation of fleas to her yard which adjoins the yard in question.

Miller said the city has been placing traps to capture the cats, but someone has been taking the food out of the traps to keep them from being captured.

The mayor assured her the city will do what it can to capture the cats. Miller said she would gladly allow the city to place the traps in her back yard in hopes of ridding the neighborhood of the menace.

Mayor Billy Spiers investigated the situation last week and agreed the home needs to be condemned and torn down. The board authorized building inspector Marcie Johnson to place a “Condemned” sign on the property immediately.

Spiers said the city had been unable to find out who owned the piece of estate property formerly owned by Clara Ward, now deceased. Alderman John Sherman told the mayor he learned on Tuesday it is in the hands of a lawyer who is handling the estate.

The mayor said one of the neighbors has already offered to buy the property.