New Ordinance In Mississippi County Aimed At Forcing Property Owners To Clean Up Blight

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(Mississippi County, AR) There are now fines for people in Mississippi County, Ark., who don't keep their property up.

A new ordinance gives property owners 30 days to eliminate blight, or the county will take action.

People who live in Mississippi County are fed up with unsightly property that's unsafe and unsanitary, so they let the Quorum Court Judge and Justices know their feelings.

Friday afternoon Scott Wathen was trying to enjoy a cup of coffee outside his home on Mississippi County Road 214.

But the mess in the yard across the road left a bad taste in his mouth.

It's filled with junk cars and trucks and trash of all kinds.

"You got mice, rats, snakes, in the summertime. It's just dumpy, you know. Clean it up," said Scott Wathen.

Wathen is glad the Mississippi County Quorum Court passed a ordinance making the guy who owns the junky lot clean it up.

The new ordinance will impact everyone in the county.

"It's long overdue. Something should have been done a long time ago. I'm glad they're doing something. This is nice. I just want to get it cleaned up," said Wathen.

Until the ordinance passed Tuesday, Mississippi County didn't have any kind of ordinance forcing property owners to be more responsible.

The ordinance will impose fines of $100 a day on county property owners who have unsightly or unsanitary conditions.

Mississippi County Judge Randy Carney said the ordinance is past due.

"Some people need a little nudge, a little encouragement to become better neighbors. And that's what we're trying to accomplish here," said Judge Carney.

Mississippi County fashioned its new ordinance after the one in Crittenden County, and it has the teeth to take property owners to court and condemn their property.

"We have to give them x amount of time to clean it up. And we'll go along with anybody as long as we can. We just want it cleaned up," said Barry Ball, Mississippi County Quorum Court Justice.

The goal is to make the county more attractive to future business looking to locate in Mississippi County.

And to make sure homeowners like Scott Wathen don't end up paying for someone else's mess.

"It just knocks the value down on your property. If you go to sell you're not going  to get what you want for your home because of stuff like this," said Wathen.

Again, property owners will have 30 days to comply after they receive a notice from the county.