Laws address unkempt yards, junk cars

The city might begin to look a little cleaner now that city officials have adopted two local laws ai

The city might begin to look a little cleaner now that city officials have adopted two local laws aimed at tackling blight issues.

Both laws, adopted Tuesday by the Common Council, impose larger fines for code violators and give more power to enforcement officials.

The first law, which deals with overgrown vegetation, imposes a fine of $100 to $250 for property owners who fail to cut grass and vegetation more than 10 inches high.

The law states that “the presence of overgrown properties detrimentally affects the quality of life and the property values of the residents in the surrounding neighborhood.”

Code violators are given notice through mail and through a posting on the property and are then given seven days to remove the overgrown vegetation.

If the problem still exists after seven days, the city’s maintenance crew cleans up the property and charges the property owner a $50 fee plus the cost of cleanup and disposal.

The controller will be responsible for sending the property owner a bill for services performed by the city. If the bill is unpaid after 30 days, the charges will become a lien on the property.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the city clarified that tenants are not responsible for cutting overgrown vegetation unless they are instructed to do so by the terms of their lease.

“That’s why people rent, so they don’t have to mow the grass or maintain the property,” city resident Diane Hatzenbuler said during the public comment period.

Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said he was fine with the change, although it makes the ultimate goal of cleaning up the properties harder.

The second law passed Tuesday makes it easier for city officials to enforce its law banning junk vehicles from private property and public roadways.

Police Chief Thomas Brownell said last month that the enforcement procedures for the previous law were ineffective.

The law now makes it a violation punishable by a fine of up to $250 and/or 15 days in jail to store abandoned, junked or inoperable vehicles, or to repair those vehicles on private property except at a licensed repair shop or dealership.

The city or a tow company directed by the city will remove the offending vehicle at the owner’s expense after a city official has given the owner notice and seven days to remove the vehicle.

Vehicles without registration or a license plate that are taken into custody by the city will become property of the city after 10 days.

Categories: Schenectady County

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