Ordinance would give power to fine property owners and condemn buildings
Salem residents who don't keep their yards mowed or free of garbage may face penalties from the city.
The Salem City Council authorized City Attorney Dwayne Plumlee Sept. 22 to re-write a proposed ordinance that would give city officials the power to fine residents who refuse to clean up their property.
It would also give the city council the power to condemn neglected or dilapidated structures.
"We already have an ordinance similar to this on the books, but this is more comprehensive and far reaching," said Mayor Gary Clayton.
Before a resident can be fined or a structure can be condemned, the owner must be notified and given a period of time to correct the problem, Clayton said.
The ordinance was drafted last month, but councilmen wanted non-licensed, non-running vehicles added to the list of prohibited items in residents' yards.
The council will vote next month to determine if the ordinance will become city law.
Mayor Clayton said a lawsuit has been filed against the city and attorney Dwayne Plumlee.
Paul Culbreath, a Jonesboro native who owns land in Viola, filed a suit claiming Plumlee's roles as the Salem city attorney, Horseshoe Bend district judge and Fulton County prosecuting attorney are illegal.
Clayton said attorney Jim Short is representing the city in the case. He said if Short is called as a witness in the case, the city may hire the Municipal League in Little Rock to represent it.
Residents can expect a dollar increase in their garbage bills starting next month.
Alderman unanimously approved the increase to help offset rising fuel costs and increased user fees at the dump.
John Cawvey, owner of Ozark Disposal, which provides garbage pickup in Salem, asked the council for the increase.
Cawvey said there may be another increase at the beginning of the year.
The rate increase includes residential and commercial trash pickup.
Clayton said Salem needs to update and codify its city ordinances.
He said the Municipal League has a specialist who will update the city's ordinances for a fee.
"We're getting to the point where more and more people are asking for information through the Freedom of Information Act," Clayton said. "Codifying these ordinances is something that needs to be done to alleviate any confusion."
The cost for codifying the ordinances is approximately $1,600.
Plumlee said he agreed with the mayor that the city ordinances needed to be revised.
The council did not take any action, but Clayton said the codification will have to be completed in the near future.