If your neighbors’ lawn is too long or they don’t take care of their garbage and you live in the village, you might have called Granville Village Ordinance Officer Gary Didier into action.
As part of the duties of the part-time position, Didier is tasked with keeping an eye out for property owners or tenants who are not taking care of the places they live, often to their neighbor’s distress.
In a time when taxes are determined by assessed value, any issue impacting property values can be a sensitive subject so Didier said he tries to use a soft touch with residents and it’s worked out so far.
“I don’t want to make them unhappy that they’re in the village but if your grass in one and a half feet tall and the neighbors, they’re keeping it nice, that’s not fair,” he said.
Since the village ran an advertisement alerting property owners to renewed enforcement in early May Didier reports no complaints have reached the point of being ordered to appear in court, although a handful have come close.
“I’d say maybe 90 to 95 percent of the people I deal with, all it takes is a phone call or a visit,” Didier said.
Mayor Brian LaRose said the board has been pleased with the results of the work thus far.
“It’s been working out really well. This year we decided to take a more aggressive approach and with Gary’s help it’s been going very, very well,” he said.
Part of the reason to be concerned about property upkeep is the impression it provides to visitors, LaRose said. “It’s a good reflection on our community and how (residents) feel about it,” LaRose said.
Village Clerk Treasurer Rick Roberts said the board retooled the law and passed the new version of the 1998 regulation in 2010 with an eye on providing some teeth behind efforts to get landlords, tenants and homeowners to maintain the appearance of their parcels within the village.
Although the village and Didier are looking at properties, they are keying on neighbor complaints.
Issues producing potential complaints include health and safety considerations such as failing to dispose of trash or used appliances or unregistered and uninsured vehicles or allowing the grass to grow too long.
“No one’s been into court; no one’s been cited at this point,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of a work in progress, he’s made some headway.”
Beefed-up penalties under the new version of the law go from a $50, $100 to $250 sliding scale for first, second and third offenses to $100, $200 and $500 under the new law.
The $500 third offense or a serious breach of the law that results in injury could see the violator spending as many as 90 days in jail and or facing a $2,000 fine.
Officials said Didier follows a procedure, but has not followed it to the end point.
The process would likely start with a complaint from a neighbor, followed by a visit from Didier. If he should have to return after 10 days, a written notice would be provided followed by another 10 day to two week period to allow the resident to comply.
Should a third trip become necessary, because the resident has failed to make any effort to comply, the result would be an appearance ticket for village court.
Spring weather, with the frequent rains, seemed to have kept many residents from doing yard maintenance early in the year but that work seemed to have picked up as the summer went on and dried out, LaRose said.
In some cases it has taken more than one visit to produce some action but as long as he’s seeing progress and effort, Didier said he’s satisfied.
“Some people are just procrastinators,” he said.
In one case he visited a resident a number of times and received promises to clean up an old vehicle and some trash.
Although the man was down to his last ‘strike’, Didier said he received a call after dropping by informing him the issue was being handled as they spoke.
Didier said he has even been notifying business about the appearance of their lots.
“If you show me you’re making a good effort and you’re moving forward I’m happy. As long as I see people making an effort … I realize times are tough,” he said.
Granville Town Supervisor Matt Hicks said the town does not have a property maintenance law, but issues of health and safety are relayed to Washington County who handles code enforcement issues such as garbage.