Aldermen address unkempt property

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016





Prentiss Aldermen are taking necessary steps to keep Prentiss as neat and clean as possible.

At their July meeting, they placed nine properties on a public hearing list in order to properly address concerns. Last month eight properties were on the list.

The process falls under MS code 21-19-11 which states: If the property or parcel of land located within a municipality is in such a state of uncleanliness as to be a menace to the public health, safety and welfare of the community, a governing authority of any municipality shall conduct a hearing, on its own motion, or upon the receipt of a petition signed by a majority of the residents residing within four hundred (400) feet of any property or parcel of land alleged to be in need of the cleaning.

Notice shall be provided to the property owner by United States mail two weeks before the date of the hearing mailed to the address of the subject property and to the address where the ad valorem tax notice for such property is sent by the office charged with collecting ad valorem tax.

If the property owners do not show at the public hearing, municipal employees can then clean land by cutting grass and weeds, removing rubbish, removing abandoned or dilapidated fences, draining cesspools and clearing standing water.

The landowner is then charged 50% of the actual cleaning cost. The amount is added to their city taxes.

Authorities can’t go on the same property but six times in a 12 month period.

If property owners do show up at the public hearing, they are given 30 days to get the property cleaned up.

“It is better for the landowner to handle it so the cost won’t be added to their taxes,” said Town Clerk Missy Jones.” We want people to take pride in their property.”

A problem Jones runs into when there is condemned property is locating the property owner. Many properties are bought at the land tax sale. Along the way, that owner might lose the property and it defaults to the original owner. Some owners even claim they “gave it away”. When no one will claim the property, research locating the actual owner takes time.

“This is a process mandated by the state. We are not allowed to go through and clean up privately owned property whenever we would like,” said Alderman Randy Stamps. “We want the public to know we are doing everything in our power to keep things as clean and uncluttered as we can.”

Several buildings and burned homes in the Prentiss area have been condemned and declared a nuisance, but nothing can be done at this time.

The county rubbish pit is not capable of accepting the material from large buildings such as the Medical Center. Until a solution is made regarding the rubbish pit, those buildings will have to remain an eyesore.

The aldermen also want to urge owners to remove standing dead trees from their property. The town is not allowed to remove dead trees from private property unless it is in an alley.

As far as grass that needs mowing next to the roadway, the ordinance states there are different right a ways for each road.

“On some roads, we only have authority for maintenance on the pavement itself,” said Public Works Director Don Jones. “Some property owners are responsible for the grass right up to the road, even on the outside of the sidewalk or fence,” he added.

Jones would also like the public to be aware of where they place limbs and debris for town pick-up. Some residents place these items under power and service lines which puts municipal employees in danger during the loading process.