Notices going out to city alleyway offenders
The city code enforcement officer in Quincy expects to send out 40 to 50 letters a day this week to homeowners who are storing garbage and other materials in the city’s alleys.
It’s become such a problem in Quincy that the garbage trucks are having a hard time passing through some alleys, said Tim Moore, code enforcement officer.
“Some people will be getting notices and fines,” he warned.
Moore has found everything from gardens planted in the alleys to stockpiles of tires, auto parts, bricks and wood. In some places, homeowners have grown tall plants such as sunflowers that are getting so large the garbage trucks cannot avoid running them over or knocking them down, he said.
“It has just gotten out of hand,” Moore said.
Moore warned that no one will be off the hook. He even expects to send some letters to city officials who are offending the city code.
“This is a whole town issue,” he said.
Moore described the alleys as “forgotten territory.” Oftentimes, homeowners think they can use the space to store unwanted materials. Other times, people don’t regularly inspect the portion of the alley butting up to their property, so weeds then overrun the area, Moore said.
However, according to city code, the alleys around Quincy are public right of way with property owners responsible for their care and maintenance, from the center of the alley to a homeowner’s property line.
It’s unlawful to deposit any materials — that includes debris, vegetation, lawn clippings, lumber piles, wood piles, auto parts, garbage and the like — or store anything but city-approved garbage or refuse containers in the city alleys, according to the city code.
Failure to remove such materials within five days is a code violation and may carry a fine of $25 a day. However, code allows fines to be as high as $500 a day, Moore said.
In a letter to homeowners, Moore will be giving offenders 10 days to get the material cleaned up and out of the alley.
However, based off of past experience, the code enforcement officer isn’t optimistic that he will get many homeowners to comply. In fact, after completing a similar campaign recently to clean up noxious weeds on private property in town, he’s expecting three to five people to take action on their own, he said.
Still, Moore said the city doesn’t want to be inflexible or heavy handed. He will work with residents if they have any questions or concerns.
“We want to be neighbors,” Moore said.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org