Bay St. Louis Targets Eyesore Properties - - The News for South Mississippi

Bay St. Louis Targets Eyesore Properties

Neighborhood eyesores can include rundown houses, overgrown lots and junk cars. A warning letter from code enforcement is often all it takes to get problem properties cleaned up. But when a warning isn't enough, the violators are either taken to court or to city council.

The building official in Bay St. Louis says the majority of violators will comply, once they're sent a warning letter. Bill Carrigee says the city is also willing to work with property owners, if they need some extra time to complete a clean up. After all, the goal is to remove eyesores and bring properties into compliance, not to persecute the owner.

But if warnings are ignored, city council or the court can step in.

A fire damaged house on Citizen Street has been a problem for the city for awhile now. Neighbors have complained of course because of the condition of it. Fire heavily damaged the now vacant structure. But that was 11 years ago.

Neighbors like Patt Cucullu say it's past time the owner either fix it up, or tear it down.

"They told him that he had to board it up so kids couldn't get in or whatever," Cucullu said. "But the rat population has increased in this neighborhood. The four legged kind. And they're actually in the swimming pool next door. They've found dead ones in the swimming pool. And it's just not a healthy situation having something like this."

The Bay St. Louis City Council recently declared the dilapidated house a menace. It's an important step toward forcing demolition.

"It's my understanding that bids have already been opened for someone to tear the building down. When the city proceeds with this, the owner will have the option of either paying the bill or it will be added to his taxes," Carrigee said.

A vacant lot on Washington Street is the site of a successful demolition The city had received several complaints about a rundown house that once stood on the property. New owners tore down the structure after the elderly home owner passed away.

The owner of an aging carport on Ballentine recently got a letter from code enforcement. Neighbors complained about the bad condition. Often, a warning letter is all it takes.

"The large majority of the people will comply. They may ask for a little more time. They may ask to work with them on it," Carrigee said. "They can do part of it today and more next week. But on the whole, I believe most people try to clean up the property when you ask them to."

Junk cars are a frequent complaint to the code enforcement office in Bay St. Louis. The owner of a lot on Sycamore Street was recently sent a warning letter asking him to remove several abandoned vehicles.

Four cars and an abandoned RV now litter the lot. And the vehicles attract other junk.

"Anytime you see vehicles that have been abandoned someplace and trash has been dumped illegally there you figure, well somebody else got away with it, I might as well dump mine there too, which just builds on the problem," Carrigee said.

By Steve Phillips

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