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County targeting eyesores
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Avoid citations: Keep your property looking nice

Not only will taking care of your property keep you free of code violation citations, it will increase your home’s “curb appeal,” making it much easier to sell when the time comes. Follow these tips to keep your property clean:
• Kill mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof or driveway.
• Clean windows and gutters.
• Pressure wash dirty siding and dingy decks.
• Edge sidewalks and remove vegetation growing between bricks.
• Mow the lawn, get rid of weeds and rake and dispose of leaves.
• Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the home’s roof.
Liberty County code enforcer Tony Mullis said he “just about got his foot chopped off,” when he asked a couple of municipalities to take a more proactive role in the upkeep of their cities, particularly  abandoned trailers.
The county only has control over unincorporated areas; it’s up to each city to keep up with regular maintenance. However, unsightly sites and structures are a reflection on the whole county and it’s time to clean them up, said Liberty County Commmission Chairman John McIver at Thursday’s meeting.
“You’ve got mobile homes burnt out, stacked on top of each other — these things are eyesores in the community. Not only that, but they breed mosquitoes,” McIver said.
He was particularly concerned with dilapidations on the county’s east-end going toward Highway 196, the “gateway into the county.”
Paul Zechman, building and licensing director, and his team has been going to city council meetings to help assess the issue and “see what they want to do and how far [the county] wants to go.”
But cities shouldn’t be able to shirk their responsibility, according to commissioner Pat Bowen.
“Why should we go in there and clean it up?” Bowen asked.
County administrator Joey Brown, who reminded the board of the county’s intergovernmental agreements with the municipalities, said issues can be handled legally if
there’s no action from cities.
Mullis said the county doesn’t scold the cities, instead he explains that property is just more valuable when it looks better.
With the cost of removing a mobile home  at about $5,000, money usually turns out to be the real stumblingblock.
“Some of these people simply don’t have the resources,” Mullis said.
“It’s a tough call when they don’t have the money,” added Zechman. “Because I agree, I see plenty of eyesores.”
Code enforcement has 13 open cases, but closed nine cases this month, including clearing out the unauthorized, makeshift RV park next to Food Lion on west Highway 196.
“That was a case you just have to stick to your guns,” Zechman said.
To some residents’ credit, Zechman finds many property owners want to clear out, but get taken advantage of when hired employees only do half the job.
“They leave the trailer sitting there, stuffing showing, and it looks worse than it does [before],” Zechman said.
Code enforcement also typically gets calls about overgrown lawns, junk cars and neighbors who paint or take their cars apart in the driveway.
Violators get a courtesy warning, a letter, then a summons to magistrate court if the problem persists.
“If I can deal with you, individually, it’s a lot better than dealing with you in a courtroom,” Mullis said.
Violators usually have 10-30 days from the citation to fix the problem.
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