The first court case involving Hope's cleanup ordinance has ended with a $2,300 fine for a resident who refused to clean up a property.
And that is after a reduction in the fines from the judge, after the property was finally cleaned, according to town officials.
The property cleanup ordinance went into effect this spring, with about 60 homes receiving the red card notifications of violations on their doors since then. After receiving the card, the property owner has 10 days to clean up the property and then can be fired $25 a day until the property is cleaned.
Town Manager J.T. Doane briefed the Town Council this week on the cleanup efforts so far. Most property owners have cleaned up their property promptly after being notified, Doane said, but there have been a few holdouts.
In the case that made its way to the courtroom, Judge Jim Worton ruled against the property owner and ordered that the $4,600 in accumulated fines be paid, but also said he would reevaluate the fine if the property was cleaned up. After the property was cleaned, the judge cut the fine in half and levied $167 in court costs, Doane said. That fine must be paid by Dec. 7th.
"It was definitely very favorable to have that type of a precedent set, because this would most likely be the judge for some of these other properties if we would have to go to court," Doane said.
In a second case, a resident did not get the property cleaned by the deadline and the town began levying the $25 a day fine. The property was eventually cleaned and the resident agreed to pay the $1,425 fine at a rate of $50 a month.
The town has mailed out another certified letter to a property owner and is starting the fine process, Doane said.
In other trash-related news before the Town Council:
Chris Ross, a representatives from CGS Services Inc. -- the town's new trash collector -- said that trash bins have been delivered to residents. Councilman Ed Johnson said that there have been complaints that the lids do not fit properly and appear to have been damaged in shipping. Ross said that the lids will snap back into shape as they sit in the sunlight and warm up. The company will replace any that are still defective.
The council gave its approval to the final ordinance that allows for trash collection and the payment of trash bills. The council established that the combined water/sewer/trash payments, if not paid in full, would first be applied to the water bill, then the trash and finally to the sewer.
Councilwoman Nellie Meek said that she was disturbed that she never had a chance to see the finished contract with CGS before it was voted on. She said that the contract should have been provided to the council members in advance for them to view. Ross said that the contract was written by Town Attorney Cindy Boll, not by his company. Clerk-Treasurer Diane Burton said the contract is available to be read and would have been made available to Meek if she contacted Burton.