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Milton beefs up nuisance ordinance

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

 

The city of Milton is placing a cap on the amount of time that can lapse between approval of sewer and water service to new developments and construction in Milton city limits.

The number of approved sewer extensions has the city’s system at near capacity – at least on paper. However, most of the developments that have been approved still don’t exist, City Clerk Shannon Hoskins told Milton City Commissioners at the Thursday, Aug. 27, meeting.

Because of that, new development proposals cannot be approved, she said.

The commission voted to give notice to developers that work on sewer and water extensions must begin within 90 days of approval. If that time passes and no work has begun, developers will be forced to reapply for the service.

In other business, the city also added teeth to its nuisance ordinance. The commission voted on an emergency first reading to amend its ordinance to address abandoned and neglected properties.

City attorney Genon Hensley amended the wording of the ordinance to allow city employees to clean up properties for which owners cannot be located or have not responded to requests to clean up.

A lien then will be attached to the property to enable the city to recoup the cost of any work done by the city. Any liens on property must be paid if the property is sold.

“That never really happens, does it,” said Commissioner Steve Brierly.

“Actually, we do it all the time,” Hensley said. “It’s mostly done for people who don’t pay their taxes. Either they [the property owners] pay it, or if the property sells, it is paid. We get the money back plus the cost of filing the lien. ... We’ll always get the money back. It may take awhile, but we always get it.”

Hoskins said the amended ordinance will be useful to deal with properties that have been foreclosed on by corporations, particularly. She said the city cannot issue citations to corporations.

“But, we can do the abatement work and put a lien on it,” Hoskins explained.

Hoskins said property owners are given a courtesy call asking to clean up a property. “They have 10 days to comply, then we send a letter. They have five days to comply, and then they are cited.”

Hoskins said the abatement process will only be used as a last resort. “We don’t want to go cleaning up peoples’ property.”

Commissioner Jerry Harmon said he approves of the abatement procedure. “It’s good. It helps the neighbors who have to put up with” neglected properties.