Turn left from North Roxboro Road onto Bacon Road, and one of the first houses you see is covered in junk.
Beyond the lumber stacked in the yard, the four trucks and the broken trampoline cradling even more stuff, sit overflowing piles of boxes, exercise equipment, furniture and various pieces of rusting what nots.
The property at 123 Bacon Road has concerned county officials for about four years, said Solid Waste Program Manager Brian Haynesworth. A reporter for The Durham News knocked on the door, past unopened notices from the county and other organizations, but no one answered.
Durham County officials hope to streamline and improve their chances of cleaning up such nuisance properties by amending a county ordinance to clarify the county’s authority.
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On Jan. 25 the county commissioners plan to vote on a proposal that lays out the steps that can be taken on properties where high grass, garbage, construction debris, old cars and general junk linger.
While state law grants the county such authority, the existing county ordinance adopted in the 1980s focuses on violations at county sites where people drop their trash and other items, not private property.
“We are focusing (now) on nuisance abatement,” Haynesworth said.
Residents outside the city in unincorporated sections of the county have historically enjoyed a more rural lifestyle with fewer rules. But as more people move to those areas, residents’ standards are changing, Haynesworth said. The county receives uo to two dozen complaints a month about nuisance properties, he said.
But the changes go beyond littered lots.
The proposed changes also prohibit leaving recycling bins on the road for extended periods of time and require residents to remove all trash from their property within seven days compared to the current two-week time period.
Residents who leave their bins roadside will receive a “courtesy card warning” for the first violation and a warning sticker for the second. Third and additional violations will result in fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for the second and $500 for subsequent transgressions. Fines must be paid in 14 business days or the resident could face up to 30 days in jail.
Nonpayment will result in a lien on the property and collected as unpaid taxes.
In general, the changes also make it unlawful to harbor:
▪ Accumulated junk, tires, trash or construction debris that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, insects, rats or pests.
▪ Anything causing offensive odors or health risks, such as dead animals, stagnant water, decayed vegetables or filthy privies or stables.
▪ Uncovered wells, open pits, unsecured vehicles, appliances, man-made structures or containers with stagnant water.
▪ High grass and weeds more than 12 inches.
Farms are exempt from the regulations.
Notices of violations will ask owners to clean up the property within 90 days, the proposed amendments states. Owners who have been cited can seek a hearing before the county’s General Services director.
If an owner fails to remedy the nuisance, the county may remove the trash and remedy the situation at the expense of the owner, the proposed changes state.
If commissioners adopt the changes, county officials would seek to educate unincorporated residents by hosting educational sessions at libraries and working with local community groups, such as Ruritan clubs, said General Services Director Motiryo Keambiroiro.
Then county officials would start enforcing the ordinance 30 to 90 days after that, she said.
Read the rules
To read the proposed changes, go here http://bit.ly/1PfFhyz and scroll down to the agenda item on solid waste and download the proposed amendments.