Weed problem has some LL residents concerned about enforcement

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Several villagers of Los Lunas have received violations for overgrown weeds from village code enforcement, and Camelot Boulevard residential area homeowner Glen Walker isn't very happy about it.

The reason is because he has a neighbor who not only has overgrown weeds, but whose house has a huge hole in the roof where pigeons have roosted, a swimming pool with stagnant green water and an old, defunct Suburban parked askew out front.

"We've filed complaints to zoning for several years, over three or four years," Walker said. "One was the dog feces, another was their fence and their roof. When you drive around back, you'll see his fence, what's left of it, and they've got a pool that he's filled up but it has gunk in it and everything else. To me, that's a safety issue and a health hazard."

According to the village's ordinance "Unsanitary Premises," it is unlawful for any person to permit any solid waste, weeds, dead motor vehicles, waste water or any conglomeration of residue which emits odors or serves as a feeding or breeding place for flies, insects or rodents on his property premises.

"The couple next door have health issues," Walker said. "It's like, well, I understand that, but my wife has health issues too, and she's able to go out and do some work, a little at a time."

Adolph Lopez, the village code enforcement supervisor, explained that it is after three violations, three 10-day chances to come into compliance, that an offender will then receive a citation and a court hearing date.

The ordinance states that any growth of weeds to a greater height than four inches, or any accumulation of weeds, is a violation.

Walker cleaned up the weeds on his property within the 10-day period before re-inspection on his first violation, Lopez said.

"The one that he (Walker) is talking about that has the swimming pool, we've been dealing with this individual for years," Lopez said. "We have him in court and it kind of goes back and forth with different court orders per judge on that property.

"We told Mr. Walker, if he's willing to be a witness on the condition of the property, we can subpoena him and have him testify, but I don't think he wanted to do that."

Anyone can visit the compliance office to inspect public records of pending cases and violations, Lopez said.

"We've been dealing with (Walker's neighbor) so much, we just go straight to citation," Lopez said. "We don't even give him a notice, because his property is in such poor condition."

Fines for nuisance violations run from $25 to $500 and can entail 90-day jail time or both.

If the court orders it, the village will clean up a property and place a lien on it for payment of the costs incurred, Lopez said.

The village has budgeted a limited amount of money in the general fund for residential clean up, but if payment from the property owner is delayed, it can deplete the resource.

There are some cases the compliance office has been wrangling with for 10 years, and the property is actually going into foreclosure because the village has a lien on it, Lopez said.

Residents are responsible for their property from their yards to the street curb, according to the ordinances.

The code enforcement department handles hundreds of cases each week, inspections and re-inspections.

In Walker's neighborhood alone, there are 17 violations, and at least two of them are in the court process, his neighbor among them.

"We've had a really hard time getting this individual to court because he has medical excuse after medical excuse," Lopez said. "We have it filed in court, and we're still dealing with the individual to get it cleaned."

The transition to a new, interim municipal judges has created delays, but Lopez said he's interested to see how the new judge will handle this case.

It is only about 10 percent of cases the village of Los Lunas Code Enforcement has trouble with. Most people get their properties in order before the first re-inspection, Lopez said.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.