Two Clarkson residents who recently received letters from the city regarding the clean-up of their property were present to discuss concerns with the council on Monday evening.
City officials recently voted to send out legal notices via City Attorney Beth Ratley asking the owners of five Clarkson properties to make needed changes to their unsightly properties or face steep fines.
One of those letters went to Damon and Kathy Lashley, who came to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting to discuss their resulting questions and concerns.
Damon Lashley told the group that he was not entirely sure why his property was added to the list, and said that the letter did not outline any particular problems with his property. “I’m not clear on what the issue is,” he told the council members.
Lashley explained that upon receiving the notice, he had made a handful of improvements to his property, including selling a truck cab that, as someone who restores old cars, he had intended to make into a project. He said that before he begins to incur charges, which the letter said would begin later this week, he wants to know what exactly needs to be done to comply with the city’s ambiguous guidelines.
“It really rattled me to get this [letter],” he said.
The council conceded that the Lashley’s home had been added to the list of indecent properties after a citizen’s complaint, though they said further investigation would likely have lead them to decide not to include his with the other unsightly pieces of land.
“They complained, so we responded,” said council member Bob Vincent, who later made a motion to declare that Lashley’s property improvements were “more than satisfactory.”
“If yours was unfairly included,” Vincent told the Lashleys, “I apologize.”
Lashley’s recommendation that the group be specific about what each individual property owner needs to do in order to be in compliance with the city’s ordinances was taken very seriously by the council.
Council member Kay Gibson agreed, saying, “We should be more specific in the future, and we will. It’s hard to fix what you don’t know is wrong.”
Vincent stated that the group is “in the process of drawing up a new ordinance” regarding the upkeep of properties within the city, and both he and Gibson said that the new ordinance will give residents more specific rules regarding what is permitted and what is not.
Mayor Bonnie Henderson also read the group a letter from another pair of local property owners who had received the same notice as Lashley.
Donnie and Janice Willis requested that the council grant them an extension on the clean-up of their property due to bad weather and wet ground conditions. A unanimous vote granted the Willises until May 15 to complete the work that the letter indicated was planned.
The clean-up initiative has been at the forefront of the council members’ minds in the previous months, and according to the group, the effort will continue.
Henderson said, “We have sent many letters and we’re going to send many more.”