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It's time for Carrollton to better enforce ordinances

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

To me, it’s obvious, based on statements made at Monday’s Carrollton City Council meeting, that there are many residents who don’t feel that our elected officials are doing enough to clean up this city of about 4,000.

Several folks came before council and said they feel frustrated that their complaints seem to go unheard.

I understand what they are saying; it seems that this same argument has been circulating through town for the entire six-and-a-half-plus years I’ve been editor here.

There is the problem of some residents or property owners who do not mow their lawns when they should. I’ve seen overgrown yards as I go through town; I know this is a problem. There also are people who throw trash in their yards and store vehicles on their property. There are many residents – renters and property owners alike – who seem to take no pride in their homes, or their neighborhoods.

I will admit, however, that I took some time Tuesday morning before writing this column to look at the locations cited by one outspoken resident, who says she has to battle with her Highland Avenue neighbors regularly to make sure they mow or clean up their properties – often resorting to doing the work herself.

On Tuesday, yes, there were two lawns on that section of Highland that seemed a bit high. I didn’t get out and measure them, but neither looked to me to be higher than 12 inches. That’s how tall grass must be before a property owner can be cited for neglecting their lawn.

But that’s just one day. It’s very possible I wasn’t seeing the worst of this sitution.

Council members actually discussed changing the ordinance to require grass not be allowed to grow over 10 inches tall, which is the requirement in the state’s statutes. One member even suggested making Carrollton’s ordinance even more stringent, and bringing that number to 8 inches.

Seriously?

If residents say that the ordinance isn’t being enforced when grass reaches 12 inches tall, what difference will it make if the city lowers the standard to 8 or 10 inches?

Councilman Mike Gordon adamantly agrued that the problem isn’t with the ordinances on the city’s books. He said he believes they cover just about every problem that can be dealt with concerning private residences.

Rather, he said, it’s enforcement of the existing ordinances that would ensure a clean and neat Carrollton.

Again, this part of the equation, has been raised over and over again in city council meetings for many years.

Inevitably, comments follow that insinuate building inspector/city code enforcement officer John Welch isn’t doing his job. And, inevitably, this is countered with the comment that Welch is a one-man operation, and the job of enforcing Carrollton’s ordinances is too big for just one person.

It’s time council finds a way to determine if the problem is Welch not doing his job, or if it is, indeed, a job that’s too big for one person.

If it’s the former, then find someone to replace him. If it’s the latter, then hire people to help him.

Yes, there’s a cost involved in hiring additional personnel, but the cost of hoping the problem will go away on its own is far higher for Carrollton’s residents.