New county regulations target blight

Published 7:47 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fees will be charged for re-inspections

Some residents of Lawrence County will see some new fees to target people with trash in their yards or other public safety concerns.

The Lawrence County Health Department is issuing guidelines to help deal with nuisance complaints, unsafe housing and those who leave trash in their yards can expect a bigger fee if the agency has to make a couple trips to their house to get the resident to clean it up.

The new guidelines are being put on the web, the libraries and take effect on Sept. 1.

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Melissa Mullins, the health department’s emergency response coordinator and in the environmental section, said they get around 20 nuisance complaints a month. After someone complains about a situation like household trash in the yard, the health department investigates and if it is valid, the resident or owner is ordered to clean up the mess. If a second complaint on the same situation comes in, the health department comes in to inspect it again.

“A second non-compliant re-inspection fee is $75,” she said. “A third non-compliant re-inspection fee is $100.”

Mullins said the department didn’t have re-inspection fees before.

“Those are going into place because we are getting repeat calls,” she said. “If someone calls in and we have to go out, there is not an inspection fee to investigate, whether it is blighted property or unsafe property, or say, household trash that has accumulated on the property, causing a public safety issue.”

She said that if the problem is taken care of, there is no issue or fee.

“But if we go back out and they are not doing anything, that is when the fees are going to start coming into play,” Mullins said, adding that in some cases, the mess is cleaned up and then, two or three months later, there is trash in the yard again.

Other nuisance issues are failing septic systems.

The Lawrence County Health Department has established new housing regulations to help guide the nuisance complaints, blighted properties, the process of a house being condemned and other issues.

“It goes through the definition and interpretations of the regulations for people who may not understand some of the language in there,” Mullins said.

She said the guidelines are about 15 pages long and will be posted on their website, She said they are talking to the libraries about putting paper copies at the various branches by Monday morning.

The sale of property fee will also increase to $225, effective Sept. 1. That increases from $125.

The Lawrence County Health Department is located at 2122 S 8th St. in Ironton. They are open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday.