[StBernard] Enforcement to begin today on St. Bernard Parish grass/debris ordinance

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Feb 12 20:49:03 EST 2007

Enforcement to begin today on St. Bernard Parish grass/debris ordinance

Enforcement begins today on the St. Bernard Parish Council-approved
emergency ordinance that fines property owners $100 a day if they don't cut
overgrown grass, pick up debris and secure gutted homes, a parish news
release says.

A permanent ordinance has been introduced which will have a public hearing
at the next Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, before members
vote on it.

Under the emergency measure for every $10 days of violation, a $1,000 lien
could be placed against a property that would have to be satisfied before it
could be sold and if the fines reach the assessed value of the property the
government could go to court and take ownership.

Proponents say the parish doesn't want anyone's money. In fact the ordinance
allows forgiveness of any fine if the property owner responds by taking care
of the deficiencies, the news release says.

Parish compliance officers will look for violations starting on Feb. 12. The
number for residents to call to report violations is (504) 278-4224.

Below is a summary of what will take place:

Properties will be identified as compliance officers begin sweeping
neighborhoods. The initial sweep will start during the week beginning Feb.

The initial sweep will focus on identifying properties that have been gutted
but have had no clearing done to the exterior of the property, resulting in
overgrown grass and weeds above the 12 - 18 inch range. The ordinance for
grass identifies grass above 18 inches as a violation, but if the grass is
already at 12 inches with the warm weather approaching, the grass will begin
to grow much faster.

The initial sweep will also focus on properties that have had only partial
gutting of the properties, including ancillary structures such as sheds.

Properties which are registered for demolition are exempt from the
requirement of securing the property, but the grass must be maintained by
the owner of the property.

Properties which are in the Murphy Oil Buyout area and have provided Murphy
Oil, USA with a proof of claim and intent to sell the property are asked to
make sure that the grass is not overgrown but are not required to secure
properties. Any fines that are issued to a property that is in the process
of being sold to Murphy Oil, USA should present their proof of claim and
intent to sell to the compliance office so that those fines can be forgiven.

Properties that are waiting for the LRA Road Home program or properties that
are going to be sold to the LRA Road Home program are not exempt from
cleaning and securing. Property owners who have decided to sell their
property to the LRA Road Home program are encouraged to document their
damage, record their square footage, get an appraisal if desired, and
request demolition.

The LRA has assured parish government that demolishing a home that was
significantly damaged will not lessen the amount of LRA assistance that the
owner can receive.

Houses that have been fined will be posted on the parish website of sbpg.net
and posted in the official journal, the St. Bernard Voice. Once the house is
posted, fines will continue to mount until the house has been remediated and
the owner has verified such to the compliance department of St. Bernard
Houses registered for demolition that have open windows and doors should
close the openings with some sort of solid material- examples include
Plywood/paneling/glass on windows.

Front windows that are open are encouraged to be closed with a material that
allows at least partial visibility to allow law or fire enforcement
personnel to see into the structure.

Back and side windows and doors do not have to allow for visibility.
Windows can be closed in with a clear material, provided it is attached in a
manner that it holds in place.

Garage openings can be closed in with any solid material or left open if the
garage has been cleaned out and any interior doors are secured.

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