° empty

Vidalia discusses fines for overgrown yards

VIDALIA — Residents with overgrown grass in their yards might soon find themselves in court or paying a hefty fine for their out-of-control lots.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen discussed Tuesday giving police officers the authority to issue summons to appear in court or a ticket for residents who repeatedly fail to comply with the city’s grass cutting ordinance.

“We’re still having a problem with that and it seems like people on main highways will not cut their grass,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “I would like to get with the officers to have a little more teeth to that.

“I think if you issue them a ticket they’ll respond immediately to that.”

Attorney Scott McLemore said he believed the city’s grass cutting ordinance had been recently amended to include that ability, but that he wanted to be certain of the wording before any officers began writing tickets.

“At the end of every one of these ordinances it will say ‘Subject to a fine,’” McLemore said. “A lot of these are safety, sanitary and appearance issues that do need to be corrected, but there is still plenty of notification to the residents before it reaches that point.”

Copeland asked McLemore to review the ordinance thoroughly and inform the board what steps they could take to ensure the enforcement of the ordinance.

In the meantime, Copeland asked officer Dwayne Thomas, utility superintendent Mark Morace and street and sanitation superintendent Lee Staggs to begin creating a list of houses that have overgrown grass in need of cutting.

“It’s embarrassing coming through Vidalia and (the grass) it’s three feet high,” Copeland said. “We’ve tried to be as nice about it as we can, but we need to start issuing summons or citations.

“Put a copy of the ticket in his door and tell him to come to court, I think he’ll get the idea.”

In other news from the meeting:

4The board gave permission to Tommy Lowery to host his annual Halloween block party on Miranda Drive.

Lowery was informed that several residents on Miranda Drive did not want the party this year — citing traffic and safety concerns.

Copeland had suggested Lowery go around to each house on the street and get signatures of all the residents for and against the annual party.

“We went from door to door to 53 houses on Miranda, and I have 42 signatures supporting it, one opposing it and three that don’t care either way,” Lowery said. “Some of the other houses are vacant or the people are working offshore.”

The board approved to allow the party to continue, under two conditions from Copeland.

“If you started it at 6 (p.m.) could you finish by 8 (p.m.)?” Copeland said to which Lowery agreed. “Would you bring me some of those chitlins?”

4The board approved an ordinance to increase the speed limit from 25 to 35 on the stretch of Murray Drive that runs from the former Chamber of Commerce office, behind several businesses and up to a residential area.

The limit will not be changed in the residential area.

4The board agreed to pre-file an ordinance that will ban fundraising roadblocks, with two exceptions — Feed the Hungry and the American Legion.

The matter was originally discussed at an August board meeting when Alderman Ricky Knapp said he received complaints after three fundraising roadblocks were held on Carter Street in a five-day span.

The adoption of the ordinance will be handled on Nov. 13 at the board’s next monthly meeting.