Overgrown Lots Potential Health Hazards for Surrounding Properties

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 8:37am

Dozens of homes in Brownsville are being cited for tall grass and weeds.

"The city takes action approximately a week after the sign goes up," says Willie Gonzales, a City of Brownsville Ordinance Enforcement Officer.

On Monday, code enforcement officers were out at a piece of land off of West First and St. Francis. After repeated attempts to contact the property owner the city is stepping in. A contractor will mow the lot if the property owner doesn't step up before next week.

A few years back, a nice home once stood on this lot before it burned down, now 18 inch weeds and trash are all that's left.

Officials say once an abandon lot grows up, people see the lot as dirty and begin dumping. These dumping grounds are prime habitats for rodents and mosquitoes, both of which provide potential health hazards for residents living near the overgrown lot.

Code enforcement officers also note that it's not just abandon lots they're citing.

"There has been a lot of foreclosed homes we're seeing problems with," says Gonzales.

Despite whoever owns the property, getting out of paying the city back for the mowing expenses and fines, is unlikely.

"We will put a lien on the property so if in years to come they decide to sell the property, the title can't be transferred until they pay the city back the cost incurred of mowing the property, " says the code enforcement officer.

Gonzales adds the cost of cutting overgrown grass is not cheap either. As of today, several people are actually on payment plans to pay back the city for these expenses.

With the rainy season approaching, the health department says the number of calls on these unsightly lots usually increases quite a bit as the rain helps the vegetation to flourish. The City of Brownsville is hoping to get the word out so that property owners maintain their lots rather than getting cited for not taking care of their land.

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