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County adopts procedures for property disrepair, debris

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By Alice Du Pont

Gadsden County has adopted guidelines that will be used to abate nuisances that are both structural and non-structural.

Howard Douglas, director of growth management, said the intent is to inform the public of the consequences they face when their property constitutes a nuisance to the community or neighbors.

Initially, Gadsden County Administrator Johnny Williams, or his designee, will determine the nuisance violation and notify the county commissioner in that district and the property owner. If the violation is structural, property owners will be given 30 days to begin the corrective process and 90 days to complete it. They will have 15 days to appeal the violation.

For a non-structural violation, the property owner will be notified by certified mail and a time frame will be set to correct the violation. The notice will also inform the property owner that he or she has 10 days to appeal the process and will inform the owner of the possibility of having a lien placed on the property.

"If no action is taken on non-structural violations, the county will clean up the nuisance and the cost of the corrective action will be charged to the property owner. We'll be working with the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office inmate crews to help with the cost of some of this. Ideally, that's not what we want to do. We want the owners to abate the nuisance themselves," Douglas said.

Within 15 days of the corrective action, the county will invoice the owner and demand payment. If no payment is made, the county will begin the process of placing a lien against the property.

Douglas said most non-structural violations are easy to rectify and are less costly.

"We are mainly talking about people who have junk in their yards; large items such as refrigerators or old cars," Douglas said.

Douglas said these nuisances have to be addressed because they pose a threat to the health of other residents if allowed to go unabated.

Structural nuisances require that the property owner appear before the county commissioners in a public hearing, at which time a course of corrective action will be given to the property owner. If the owner fails to comply, corrective action will be taken and the county administrator will certify the cost of abating the nuisance to the board.