The Fire Prevention Division of the Paducah Fire Department has the responsibility for the Fire Marshal’s office, Building and Construction, and Code Enforcement. For this edition of Ask Paducah, Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention Greg Cherry provides answers to questions frequently posed to the City’s code enforcement officers regarding property maintenance and vacant properties.
How tall can grass be on my lawn? Grass should not exceed ten inches in height. However, we have to look at locations on a case-by-case basis since some ornamental grasses can be exempted from the height requirement. This height requirement also applies to vacant lots; however, some parcels of undeveloped property such as a large field may be exempt.
How will I be notified if my grass needs to be mowed and how long do I have to get it mowed? The violation notice is placed on the property that needs attention. These notifications are not mailed. You have five business days from the time of notice to take care of the problem. It’s the responsibility of property owners to check their pieces of property to make sure they are maintained. We understand that some people own property in the City but do not live here. For landlords who may not live here, we suggest hiring a property manager to take care of your parcels.
What happens if the violation is not abated? If the violation is not taken care of in five business days, then a citation is issued. The citation is mailed to the listed property owner. Then, the City hires a contractor to abate the violation (mow the lawn). Once it gets to this level, the property owner will need to pay a fine and the City’s cost to hire a contractor to abate the violation. If the fine and abatement cost are not paid in 30 days, then a lien is filed on the property.
What happens if someone dumps debris such as an old couch, scrap metal, or tires on my property? The responsibility still falls on the property owner. The property owner is responsible for the removal of those items regardless of the fact that someone else tossed the discarded items onto their property.
Who is responsible for a tree hanging over on my property? Typically, trees and tree limbs are more of a neighbor issue than a code enforcement issue. You are responsible for the portion of the tree that hangs over on your property regardless of the location of the base of the tree. Here’s a common question. If my neighbor’s tree falls onto my house, who is responsible? The simple answer is that you are responsible for the portion of the tree that is now on your property. However, we have seen neighbors offering to help out neighbors in these cases. The best advice we can give is to speak with your neighbor about the issue. Otherwise, you should consult an attorney, as this is a private matter. However, if there is a tree or vegetation that is blocking clear vision at a corner or intersection, contact the Engineering-Public Works Department at 270-444-8511.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of a vacant house or property? The currently listed property owner is responsible for a vacant house or property. We often see problems pop up with vacant structures in which the property owner may have moved or is elderly and is no longer living there. This can be frustrating for neighbors who want the property maintained. Plus, this situation is difficult for the code enforcement officers since they are working to find either the property owner or a responsible family member to take care of the property.
What should I do if there is a vacant house in my neighborhood in disrepair? Is there a process either to bring it up to code or to demolish it? Our goals are to give property owners due notification and a chance to take care of their property. We want property owners to be responsible and responsive. Here is the process. After receiving a complaint, the code enforcement officer posts a property maintenance violation on the structure and photographs the visible exterior violations. A follow-up inspection will occur in 30 days. Then, if there is no response or activity, the process moves forward either to a condemnation notice or a correction notice. The notice would be mailed to the listed property owner. A condemnation notice also means that the structure would be placed on the unsafe structure list so that emergency responders are aware that the structure may not be safe to enter. Plus, the structure is placed on a demolition schedule with priority given to the structures in the worst condition. After receiving a condemnation or a correction notice, the property owner needs to contact Code Enforcement. If no contact is made, then the City will issue a Failure to Comply letter. Code enforcement officers will continue to inspect the structure if it has received a correction notice. Fines start piling up at the third and sequential inspections. Liens and any abatement costs are placed after the 5th inspection.
How do I ask a question or file a complaint? If you have a question or would like to file a complaint about a property maintenance issue, contact Code Enforcement at 270-444-8522. A code enforcement officer will check on the complaint typically within three business days or sooner.
For more information about code enforcement in the City of Paducah, visit www.paducahky.gov or call the Fire Prevention Division at 270-444-8522.
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Contact Public Information Officer Pam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-444-8669.
(Edition 10 – November 9, 2016)