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Alachua County Commissioners Pass Nuisance Abatement Ordinance

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The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt a nuisance abatement ordinance.

The ordinance will amend chapter 74 of the county code and outlines options for cleaning up properties containing hazardous materials, dangerous structures, or an excessive accumulation of rubbish, trash, construction and demolition debris and unserviceable vehicles.

There are three options for enforcing nuisance removal. The first is standard notice of violation in which owners will be given 30 days to clear the nuisance and will then be judged by the enforcement board to determine if they have complied adequately. If found guilty, they will be fined, and if they refuse to pay the fine, a lien will be placed on the property.

The second option is an injunction in which the court will require the property owner address the issue.

The final option is a special assessment process that will consider whether the hazard in question is an imminent threat to life and safety. If it is a threat, a representative has the power to enter the property and dispose of the nuisance. But if the violation is a nonemergency, the property owner will receive a standard notice of violation, and the property will be assessed by the Codes Enforcement Board.

Despite the quick adoption of the ordinance, Commissioner Ken Cornell did not see the ordinance solving the problem at hand.

There are currently 192 outstanding property liens, ranging from $9,200 to $3,457,840. The highest liens are attached to homesteaded properties, which protects the owner from having to sell their home to satisfy the lien.

Even though Cornell seemed skeptical, he ultimately supported the ordinance and agreed that it would be a useful means of enforcement to have if needed.

“I’m not sure this is going to work,” Cornell said. “But I think it’s another tool.”

About Lauren E. Johnson

Lauren is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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