De-junk ordinance on books

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NATCHEZ — Vidalia residents may need to do a little belated spring cleaning after the passage of an ordinance dealing with obnoxious junk.

The Vidalia Board of Alderman passed the ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting to give the city the ability to require citizens to clean up anything in plain sight that is deemed a nuisance.

The ordinance extends to items in the back of property as well if those items can be seen from the street.

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“There are people in Vidalia that will not clean up stuff in their front yard, and that has been a problem for years,” City Attorney Jack McLemore said. “They City of Lafayette passed an ordinance to take care of that problem, and we copied it.”

And while the enforcement of the ordinance will give the city more curb appeal, Mayor Hyram Copeland said the ordinance is also an important step for public health since discarded items often become home for insects such as mosquitoes.

“Before, people could pile things in their garage 6 feet high, and until it was considered a public health issue the city couldn’t do anything,” Copeland said. “This gives us a vehicle to step in before it gets to that point. We are going to crack down on this.”

In other news:

City Manager Kenneth Walker was authorized to begin the process of refinancing $1,675,000 in sales tax bonds at a lower interest rate.

“If in October or November the interest rates are where we think they are going to be, refinancing could save the city $55,000 to $75,000 a year in interest,” Walker said.

But, Walker said, the city is not tied to refinancing.

“If it is not in the best interest of the city at that point then we won’t do it,” he said. “We’re just beginning the process so we will be ready.”

Steve Trujillo appeared before the board to ask for assistance in beginning a support group for recovering drug addicts.

Trujillo, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, said the support group he would like to start would be open to those recovering from narcotics addictions as well as alcohol addictions.

He said current programs are not accepting of recovering narcotics addicts.

“Right now people are being court ordered to go to AA for drug addictions, but when they get to AA they are basically told they aren’t welcome,” Trujillo said. “They are just being sent back out on the streets.”

Trujillo said his group would be a self-help group open to anyone dealing with any type of addiction.

The board advised Trujillo to compile a list of needs and present that to the city so they could provide assistance.

“Rest assured, the City of Vidalia will do whatever it can to help you with this,” Copeland said.

The board approved a sign application for Bradley Harrison of The Glades, LLC. The sign is advertising lots for sale in a subdivision.

4The board authorized the city to resubmit application for the Louisiana Community Development Block Grant for further rehabilitation of the city’s sewer system. The city has used LCDBG grants for other phases of the project and must resubmit an application annually.

The city acquired 40 park benches, 28 picnic tables and five swings through grant funding that will be placed on the riverfront.