An angry Hinesville resident addressed the city council during the public comments section of Thursday’s meeting.
Mattie Brown and her neighbor, Betty Nordeoff, said they were disappointed by the council’s inaction to alleviate a blighted area in their neighborhood, an issue Brown said she has complained about for five years.
“The property at 1031 Bacon Road is an eyesore,” said Brown as she described the rundown conditions of the house next to hers, especially the weedy, unkempt yard, with vines and shrub limbs that spills over onto her own property. “Hinesville is in violation of its own codes ... I think I’m a reasonable person, but I’ve put up with this for five years ... This property is both a private and a public nuisance.”
Brown said she appreciated the two council members who came to see the property. She also commended the Hinesville Police Department for helping keep crime to a minimum in her neighborhood, which she called a “premium neighborhood’ when she moved there years ago.
She noted, however, that it was clear to her neighbors and city officials that the blighted property has been abandoned by the owner, whom she said is a fictitious name associated with an international company.
She read parts of the city ordinance to the council, noting when a property could be defined as a nuisance, which authorized the city to take action. She said she knows the city has the authority to declare the property abandoned and can do something to clean it up.
Councilman David Anderson and Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier attempted to explain that the process she was talking about takes time and requires clearing a lot of legal hurdles. Councilmen Keith Jenkins and Kenneth Shaw acknowledged that it is their responsibility to respond to the needs of the public but said they could only respond if they knew there was a problem. Her comments were the first time they heard of the problem, they said.
“We do have a responsibility to the citizens — if we know about it,” Jenkins said.
“If you don’t know about it, you can’t fix it,” Shaw added.
Nordeoff told the council that now that the entire council is aware of the problem, she would like for every member of the council to come out and take a look at the property. City Manager Billy Edwards told her and Brown now that he is aware of the problem, he would find out where the city was in the abatement process and take whatever action was necessary to fix the problem. He then directed his attention to George Smith, the inspections department’s chief building inspector and plans examiner.
“Mr. Smith, would you please have the appropriate folks in my office in the morning so we can take care of this?” Edwards asked.
The department confirmed Friday that the meeting did take place and appropriate action is under way.
Action items in Thursday’s meeting included a vote to approve the Department of Community Development’s request to submit the Fiscal Year 2012 Consolidated Annual Performances and Evaluation Report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The council also approved changes to the city ordinance for stormwater and downtown stormwater management. The council approved a request by the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee for a Class V, one-day special alcohol permit to serve beer and wine for the Salute Veterans Day on Nov. 16 at Bryant Commons, and a request by the Liberty County Armed Forces YMCA to use 15 polycarts (trash cans) during the Liberty County Fall Festival on Oct. 31.
The council approved a request by A.G. Wells to return unused right-of-way property off Airport Road to Brutus Inc., and they approved a request by Chief of Police George Stagmeier to purchase a four-camera automatic license-plate reader system for $26,765.
Finally, the council agreed to set the times for trick-or-treating at 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.