Taking Back Our Neighborhoods- How to - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

How to: Taking Back Your Neighborhood

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Experts agree that getting rid of blight can promote economic development, and that's why Jackson officials are pushing to clean up the Capital City.

We have a special look at some new measures being proposed to force property owners to be responsible and what you can do to get something done about that nuisance property in your community in this Taking Back Our Neighborhoods report.

Since 2009, 3 On Your Side has been trying to help you take back your neighborhood, and the before and after images prove there has been success, but there's still plenty to be done.

"The numbers are starting to drop," said Kenneth Taylor. "It's still a huge number, but they are starting to drop."

Taylor, deputy director of code enforcement for the City of Jackson, said there are 512 cases pending and 344 of those are demolitions. He said there are at least a thousand weed and grass calls every year.

"We have 8 code enforcement officers and we respond to every complaint that's registered with us," said Taylor. "It may not happen that day, but we're gonna get to it within 24-to-48 hours."

The frustration for neighborhoods comes with a, usually, three month wait while the nuisance complaint goes through city council, then environmental court and finally action.

"We do have budget constraints," added Taylor. "We are allocated money for demolition, but it's up to the owner to maintain their property. We only step in when they don't."

But that tedious process could be trimmed down dramatically if Ward 6 Jackson City Councilman, Tony Yarber has his way. He's discovered the city, legally, doesn't have to wait that long and can, for example, trim overgrown lots up to six times during the growing season and, he said, the city has the money to do it.

"Only thing we have to do is just give notice up to seven days," said Yarber.

Yarber also has a proposal for people who just don't care and chronically neglect their property.

"Those are people who, in my mind, have become actual criminals and in those cases, we think it would be benefiting that our community improvement bring those cases before a judge as a criminal offense," said Yarber.

Yarber says the judge could then sentence the offender to clean up, not only their property, but any other nuisance property assigned to them, instead of doing jail time.

Also, there is a quote process used in doling out clean-up cases to contractors now. Councilman Yarber said that selected system has created a bottleneck.

"We're looking at the possibility of creating some kind of a rotation system, Yarber added."

So, what can you do, personally, to get some action on cleaning up blight in your neighborhood?

"There are two ways they can contact us," said Taylor. "They can contact us by 311, dialing 311 or they can go on line and get on 311 or they can actually call and talk to someone if they would dial 601-960-1054, that would be community improvement office."

But, both Taylor and Councilman Yarber agree the best thing you can do is get involved.

"I'm definitely going to tell citizens to get active in the neighborhood associations," said Yarber. "If you don't have one, you need to create one."

Yarber also suggests you file a civil suit, as a neighborhood association, against a negligent property owner in your community.

"Call us! We're your representative," said Yarber. "Get us out. If we don't know, it's a lot we can't do if we don't know. Get us involved; hold our feet to the fire."

Councilman Yarber said he will make his proposals on fighting blight at the Tuesday Jackson City Council meeting.

Let us help you take back your neighborhood. Just send an email to hballou@wlbt.com or contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

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