Resident to council: Get tougher on weeds

Published 12:41 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Council deals with abatements, OKs ordinance

In the same meeting in which the Andalusia City Council increased the minimum administrative fee for abatement of a property, approved abatements or several properties for weeds, and moved to have a dangerous structure torn down, a local resident begged the council to get even tougher on property owners.

Carter Williams, who lives on Church Street, appeared at the council’s workshop meeting to voice concerns about three pieces of property on his street which are regularly in abatement for unsightly weeds.

Williams said because the abatement process takes several weeks, a particular property was not mown more than two times last summer.

Whit Carroll, who manages abatements for the city, said the process begins with a courtesy letter from the city asking property owners to take care of problems. If the owners take no action, the official abatement proceedings begin. If a property owner fails to take care of weeds again during a 12-month period, the city’s ordinance allows the abatement officer to take action again without waiting for council approval.

Williams said he believes there is no need for the city to be courteous to repeat offenders.

Mayor Earl Johnson said if the city moved abatements at the fastest clip possible, it can’t prevent property from being overgrown.

“We can’t take action until it becomes a nuisance,” he said. “Even under the best circumstances, we can’t keep nuisance weeds cut like you and I keep ours cut. That’s not to say we can’t do a better job, and we’ll try.”

At present, Carroll takes bids to clean up nuisance property once it has been abated. Johnson suggested that the city accept bids to have one contractor to clean abated property to shorten the process.

In other business, the council:

• Approved an ordinance increasing the minimum administrative fees for any abatement to $150. That charge will be assessed along with any costs for work done to abated properties.

• Approved an abatement at 523 South Cotton Street asking for an unsafe structure to be torn down. The property owner did not appear at a public hearing during the meeting. Carroll said the  walls are buckling and the floors are badly damaged, and the structure could present a danger. It could not be repaired at a reasonable cost, he said.

• Abated more than a dozen properties with overgrown weeds.

• Agreed to contributed $1,500 to the Andalusia Junior Rodeo Finals set for Andalusia at the end of May.