LaFayette council wants to clean up city

Published 6:13 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

LaFAYETTE — Cleaning up the city of LaFayette seems to be at the top of the city council’s to-do list at the beginning of 2019.

The city council will host public hearings each week on 10 properties until it gets through an exhaustive list of unseemly properties that have been given notice by Code Enforcement Officer Rodney Arwood.

Councilman Neal McCurdy, representing District A in LaFayette, said he isn’t sure of the exact number of houses the city had to consider but said Arwood has been working hard and “tagging a lot of houses.”

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“We are trying to get them cleaned up because we have people just not taking care of properties and most of them live out of town,” he said. “They just leave the houses abandoned as well as the property. It just looks bad.”

He said not only are dilapidated properties eyesores to the community, but neighbors to those houses have started to complain.

The city has to follow a process that begins when the property is tagged by the code enforcement officer.

The owner of the property is then notified by certified mail.

Then, the owner has 60 days to clean it up. If not, the city can declare the property a nuisance.

This triggers a public hearing to determine if the city will move forward. Once the property is a nuisance, the city can either clean the property itself or pay to have it done, and a lien would be placed on the property.

At that point, the owner of the property would be responsible for paying for the work.

“We just want to make the place look better,” McCurdy said. “When people come in here and they see all these old, rundown houses, it leaves a bad taste. We are trying to attract people to come into the city.”

Councilman Toney Thomas said the city tried to do something similar 10 years ago, but didn’t really follow through with the punishment.

“This time we will,” he said.

However, that doesn’t mean the city will just tear down any property it sees fit.

“We are working with anyone who wants us to work with them,” Thomas said. “We aren’t doing this in a mean, ugly way. We just want the city to look a certain way.”

McCurdy agreed that the city will need to enforce the punishment to get property owners to take action.

“If we don’t put pressure on them, then they are going to do anything,” he said. “It’s time for a change.”

In summer, the unkempt properties bring several snakes and rodents to the houses, which can be another nuisance for nearby homeowners, Thomas said. 

“You try to keep your home up and living by a property like that will keep your home’s property value down, thereby taking away from somebody that has a nice home,” he said. “It’s a real problem.”

At the most recent meeting, six properties were declared dilapidated, while three property owners were given 60 days to show progress on either improving the home or demolishing it.

The council plans to host a work session before its Jan. 28 meeting to determine how it wants to proceed with the properties already declared nuisance properties.