City officials’ tour focuses on cleanup

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 17, 2001

City officials, from left, Ronnie Bounds, Sid Beauman and Gertrude Young inspect an unoccupied and dilapidated house on Pearl Street Friday.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[9/17/01]Vicksburg officials set out Friday on a two-hour tour identifying violations of zoning codes that Mayor Laurence Leyens said are affecting the quality of life.

Leyens said city personnel plan to begin inspecting street by street to clean up the town. Initially, residents will be informed of violations, he said.

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“What I want to do is to define what is code enforcement first,” Leyens said.

The city’s newest code enforcement officer is former Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Scott, who took the post two weeks ago to replace police Lt. Chip Denman, who has returned to police work as director of the Internal Affairs Divisions.

Vicksburg’s first two code enforcement officers, former police Lt. Roosevelt Bunch and Sgt. Jon Carter, were named at the outset of former Mayor Robert Walker’s administration four years ago.

Scott said he has begun working in the areas along Washington Street between Ameristar Casino and Bowmar Avenue and has noticed a large problem with abandoned or wrecked vehicles.

“You can’t just buy a blue tarp at Wal-Mart and put it on the car,” Scott said. “It has to be a fitted cover.”

Section 16-298 of the Vicksburg code of ordinances prohibits people from keeping wrecked or junked cars on public streets or private property. The code gives the city the authority to take action to have wrecked or abandoned vehicles removed after five days.

“There are a lot of abandoned vehicles around the city,” Scott said.

Scott said the process includes notifying the owner and requires court action. He said to avoid that law, people have been using tarps to cover cars, but that he will take action against those vehicles, also.

Other areas Leyens, the two aldermen and other city officials looked at included burned-out homes, dilapidated houses and overgrown vegetation. While city ordinances require property owners to cut the grass on private property, Leyens said the city has some upkeep problems, too grass growing through cracks in the roadway.

“That contributes to the blight in a subtle way,” Leyens said.

“The question is how can we ask the property owners to do their part if the city is not doing ours?” North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young said.

Leyens suggested the city should pick up the pace it sprays for weeds and grass and begin a systematic spraying of every city street.