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County Cleanup Ordinance Passes

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April 17, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

Abandoned trailers in a junkyard a mile south of West Fork on scenic Highway 71 (Photo by Steve Winkler)

Abandoned trailers in a junkyard a mile south of West Fork on scenic Highway 71 (Photo by Steve Winkler)The Quorum Court on Thursday passed an ordinance that will allow the county to clean up properties deemed “unsightly and unsanitary” by a county judge.

According to the ordinance, if a complaint is made, the landowner will be given 30 days to clean the land. If the property is not cleaned within that time period, the county will do the job, billing the landowner.

Though rules and ordinances have been made in the past, this will give the county the power to go in and clean up the property, county attorney George Butler said.

The 30-day grace period was designed to give landowners notice, Butler said.

“[Going onto a property], the intention is for that to be the last resort,” he said.

The ordinance passed unanimously, but JP Tom Lundstrum had reservations about the bill only affecting land not zoned for agriculture. Butler said that wording was already state law, according to the City Wire.

With cities like Fayetteville and Springdale already enforcing similar laws, giving the county an enforcement mechanism was necessary, JP Barbara Fitzpatrick said in an interview before the vote.

“For the benefit of the entire community there are laws that say if it’s visible from the road you’ve got to keep it clean,” she said. “How are you going to enforce that? The city can; they can call the property owner and tell them to clean it up or we can clean it up for you.”

“The county can’t do that.”

When someone “trashes out” their property, it lessens property values for neighbors, Fitzpatrick said.

“Someone with a lot over here or a house over there that wants to sell, they’re not going to get what it’s worth out of it if the person driving by sees trashed out property,” she said.

With the ordinance reaching out to sparsely populated areas in the county, it has been met with some resistance, Fitzpatrick said.

“Practically every service a government entity provides is a service that is totally necessary because you have more people living together and with more people living together, the more of these you need to have,” she said.

The bill was passed on its first reading, though most bills go through three readings before a vote, Butler said. No one showed up to the meeting in direct opposition, according to The City Wire.

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