Local police lead by example in local clean-up effort

policeIt’s the law in Lovell that property owners and residents must control weeds on their property, and Chief Nick Lewis and the Lovell Police Department have been gently reminding residents of their responsibility to comply by serving written notice to those who don’t during the past few months.

Lewis said most comply when they receive the 14-day warning notice and those who can’t due to physical disability or other reasons are receiving help from the chief and other officers, who are literally adopting properties and making efforts to keep the weeds on those properties under control.

Lewis said he and his team have been working hard on their own time to clean up town properties, as well, like the grounds of the Lovell Community Center, Great Western and Constitution Parks and the Lovell Annex.

The town’s weed and junk ordinance No. 675 states that “It shall be the duty of every person, whether owner, lessee or renter of any vacant lot, building or premises, drive-ins, dwelling houses, apartments, tenements or other establishments at all times to maintain their premises including the alley adjacent to said premises and including areas between the curb and property line in a clean, orderly condition, free of any unsightly growth of weeds.”

Lovell Police Chief Nick Lewis said awareness on the part of community members regarding the ordinance has more people asking him and his officers to look at certain properties that are not in compliance. He noted that many who received letters this year are repeat offenders.

If a property is reported as being unsightly, a police officer verifies the complaint, then delivers a written letter to the person residing at the address asking them to comply with the ordinance. In cases where the property is vacant, a notice is delivered to the owner by certified mail. If the party served does not comply within 14 days, a citation is issued and they must answer to a judge. 

Lewis said many of the offenders are property owners who live out of town and are not aware of the problem on their property until they receive notification. He said in some cases, they don’t know who to call for help.

Additionally, he has found that there are cases where a person is just not physically able to do the work. He has personally assisted with the cleanup on a number of occasions when a resident needs help complying.

He said he has found in a number of cases that a property is in limbo in the court system or is in the process of being taken over by a bank. He has also been able to assist in those situations.

“A lot of people just want to complain instead of offering to help,” said Lewis, who hopes that the example the officers are setting will encourage others to do the same.

Since the town does not have an ordinance officer to enforce the law, it falls upon regular police officers.

“It’s definitely something we want to enforce, but at the same time we have thefts and suicide attempts and other matters to attend to sometimes,” said Lewis.

Lewis has asked community members to step forward and help clean up the town.

“We can keep the town clean with just a few people, if we really make that effort,” said Lewis. “It’s a matter of taking pride in the town, and taking care of the place we live.”

With the fall burning schedule in place, a free vegetative waste site on the edge of town and another cleanup effort around the corner that will be offering free coupons that can be used at the local dump, Lewis said this is an ideal time for residents to focus on cleaning up their neighborhoods.

“Honestly, I would just like to see people take the initiative to go and ask if someone needs help,” said Lewis. “Most people are not offended and are happy to have some help. Most of the people we are helping don’t have the resources or the equipment or the physical ability to do it themselves. I don’t think most people neglect their property on purpose.”

Lewis pointed out that a television crew will be visiting the town in a few weeks from the Extreme Makeover television series. The town will get national exposure during the televised event.

“What kind of impression do we want to make?” asked Lewis. “How do we want our town to be perceived? It seems like everyone is just waiting for someone else to do it. Why not do it yourself?”

By Patti Carpenter