Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Anthony Heidelberg, center, with his wife Terri, left, and father Aaron Heidelberg is sworn in by Judge Vincent Davis as new judge of the city’s environmental court.

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There’s a new judge in town

Published 12:14am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez Tuesday officially named the judge of its new environmental court where owners of dilapidated houses, litterbugs and other city code violators will face their violations.

Local lawyer Anthony Heidelberg was officially elected as municipal judge pro tem by the Natchez Board of Aldermen at its regular meeting. Heidelberg was immediately sworn in by Judge Vincent Davis after the board’s unanimous vote.

The environmental court will operate similar to a traffic court and will hear violations for nuisance properties, abandoned vehicles, littering and similar offenses.

The city has been looking at ways to prosecute litter violation cases faster, and the mayor and board of aldermen concluded that the court was the best solution.

The court will eliminate the need for the board of aldermen having to adjudicate nuisance properties. The city, City Attorney Hyde Carby has said, will still have the opportunity to file tax liens to collect clean-up costs owed by property owners, if the city chooses to do so.

In the past, Mayor Butch Brown has said, the city was improperly filing tax liens and was not recouping costs for cleaning up properties.

Carby said the city’s code enforcement staff will identify violations and issue citations as a warning to violators, who will be given a certain amount of time to correct the violation.

If the violation is not corrected, the violator will be served a summons by a Natchez police officer to appear in the environmental court.

The city’s community improvement specialist, Anita Smith, and code enforcement officer Willie B. Jones will serve as the state’s witness to present evidence of code violations to the court, Carby said. Heidelberg said a prosecutor for the court has not yet been chosen.

The court should be up and running by the latter part of February, Heidelberg said. He said court will be at 4:30 or 5 p.m. the first and third Monday of every month in the Natchez City Council Chambers.

Brown has said the city estimates that the court will cost $2,000 to $3,000 a month to operate.

Carby has told the aldermen that the idea is for the court to pay for itself and be a net gain for the city.

 

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Tony. Now stick to your guns and make these people clean it up or pay up.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    City taxpayers needs Carby to give a quarterly report on whats what on revenues coming into the city to see if this pays for it self or not? Maybe, he could start collecting the 2 million dollars in old fines that haven’t been collected by the other judges??!! We need this in the county of folks not cleaning up as that of coming thru Washington and across the creek in the old Greer home just for starters!!

  • Anonymous

    What about all the uncollected fines they won,t get. They have millions out now they can,t or won,t collect…this town doesn,t have 2 million dollars much less be able to collect it. nobody pays fines except people who work,the rest have a free ride. If you have a good job and get fined,they put you in jail till you pay it. If you don,t work,how are they going to get blood from a turnip??

  • Anonymous

    silly new article,who believes any of this raise your hands .??

  • Anonymous

    They will have to head them off at the pass – according to recent ND article on casino income to the city, I calculated over $50 Million gross was taken in one year with just one casino, and the city got a paltry $450K or so of that. Now, if we can put them in jail before they get to the casino, they should be able to pay.

  • Anonymous

    How many other judges are “elected” by the BOA? This looks like an appointment, not election.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry I can’t get my hands up past my b-u-t.