“With the kids moving back home or moving out, we just kind of get a rush of furniture and stuff at the curb . . .”
code enforcement officer
By Jane Dail
Saturday, May 11, 2013
As thousands of college students pack up for the summer and leave town this weekend, Greenville officials said many have the tendency to leave something else: A mess.
This weekend is one the busiest of the year for moving, especially in the college area, Greenville Police Department Code Enforcement Officer A.J. Basile said. The exodus can pose safety hazards and eyesores.
Basile and Code Enforcement Officer Johnnie Butler patrolled areas in the Tar River university neighborhood on Thursday, spotting old furniture, rotting food and other refuse the roadsides.
Trash and unwanted items are supposed to be put out no more than 24 hours ahead of the scheduled garbage pickup day.
“With the kids moving back home or moving out, we just kind of get a rush of furniture and stuff at the curb, garbage, where they just kind of cleaned our their fridge,” Basile said. “If it goes unattended, you can imagine it gets kind of stinky pretty quick.”
Basile and Butler found an illegally dumped mattresses and a cabinet on the sidewalk of South Holly Street on Thursday after trash pickup had come and gone.
“Probably … they’re not going to be here when the next trash cycle comes, so they just put it out before they leave and hope for the best,” Butler said.
Sanitation will not pick up construction and demolition debris, Butler said, and tenants and property owners need to take that to the landfill.
Basile said most who violate codes are unaware of their responsibilities.
“It’s their first time living on their own,” he said. “A lot of times the last thing they’re thinking about is, ‘I need to make sure my garbage is out.’ … They mean well, they just don’t know. We just try to work with them as best we can.”
Basile and Butler also visited an abandoned home at the corner of South Holly and East Fourth streets, which posed problems in the neighborhood until windows were boarded up recently. Basile said neighbors complained homeless people would sleep inside. Others had different uses for it.
“The neighbor from across the street would say a lot of the kids going to and from downtown were using it as a urinal,” Basile said. “It was just a pit stop for people.”
Butler said keeping Greenville up to code not only improves aesthetics but keeps properties and neighbors safe.
“When you come into a neighborhood, you want the appearance to be presentable,” Basile said. It’s important to keeping lots mowed and neat to prevent “an infestation of ants, snakes, mice … or safety issues with noxious vegetation on properties.”
Basile said about half the violations in the university area are reported to them by neighbors and the other half are discovered during patrols.
“If we’re not proactive, it makes our job extremely difficult,” he said. “If we don’t kind of stay ahead, especially the public nuisance part of the job, we’ll find ourselves two steps forward, three steps back.”
Anyone found in violation has between 10 and 90 days after notification to bring the property into compliance.
Butler said having code enforcement officers patrolling in marked vehicles also puts extra eyes in the area and helps deter crime beyond property issues. If officers spot suspicious activity, they will radio it in to police.
Basile said a major obstacle in an area with a high turnover rate is tenants often do not know to seek help from code enforcement in dealing with property owners.
Though most landlords in the area keep their properties up to code, he said, enforcement officers can work as liaisons for tenants when problems arise.
Basile said students can even complain to the East Carolina University, which will point them in code enforcement’s direction.
“One of the hardest parts of this job for me is a lot of these kids who are out of state, they’re not near home, and they come here and they’re living in deplorable conditions,” he said. “They don’t know that they can call us and we can come and help them.”
Contact Jane Dail at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9585.
via The Daily Reflector.