Richmond County Daily Journal
When Richmond County began its effort to clean up roadsides through enforcement of codes, one of the major sites was south of Norman.
Shannon Brigman, county codes enforcement officer, and Allen Hodges, county solid waste enforcement officer, made many attempts to convince the owner to clean up the property on his own.
When negotiations failed, the county took the property owner to court.
On April 3, a judge issued a ruling which enabled the county to begin to remove junk from the property.
The county will now place a lien against the property for the cost of the clean-up. If the property owner does not pay the costs, the county may then take possession of the property.
“We struggled with the court system for over five years to get to the point where we have legal authority to clean this site,” said County Manager Jim Haynes.
“I have been told by residents and officials how much our work there is appreciated,” he said. “I am pleased we can be a part of this clean-up.”
Haynes said the time and effort the county spent in this one case “emphasizes the county’s commitment to cleaning up the county.
“We will continue, even in these tighter economic times, to pursue the goal that has been set by the county commissioners,” he said.
“The effort to clean up other areas of the county has taken many agencies and a great amount of individual support, and on behalf of the county, we appreciate the assistance,” Haynes said.
Through codes enforcement, junk cars have been removed throughout the county and dilapidated housing has been demolished.
Property owners are given the opportunity of removing dilapidated structures themselves before the county does. The same applies to removal of junk vehicles.
Hodges said the site just south of the city limits or Norman on U.S. 220 had been one of the worst sites in the county.
“We have made a special effort to clean up the ‘gateway’ roads coming into Richmond County,” Haynes said. “The effort in Norman has taken some five years to finalize.” The case has been in court for several years.
The site involved contains several acres on a narrow strip several hundred feet along U.S. 220.
Hodges said some 50,000 pounds of metal have been removed from the site, and he expects that much or more still to be removed. In the past, 12 vehicles were removed from the site.
He expects cleaning up to take another two weeks. It began April 7.
The landowner will be billed the cost of county labor needed to clean up the site and fuel to operate equipment.
In addition, the landowner will be billed for the maximum $3,000 in fines accumulated for not cleaning up the site himself.
Most junk material from the site is being taken to a landfill in Montgomery County. Other materials are being recycled when possible.
n Contact reporter Tom MacCallum at 997-3111, ext. 15; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.