DeSoto County works to prevent blight - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Chip Washington

DeSoto County works to prevent blight

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC-TV) - DeSoto County officials are working hard to prevent uncontrolled weed growth at foreclosed properties, something residents say is a growing problem there.
A lot near Highway 302 and Poplar Crossing is just one example of property that is no longer thriving thanks to the economic crisis.  Now, according to DeSoto County Supervisor Bill Russell, the unkept lot has become a health and safety issue. 

"It's just the ones that are in foreclosure or owned by banks that are not in this area, like the property were on right now. The bank is in Florida," Russell said.

It has become a frequent sight throughout the county as people are forced from their homes because of financial difficulties.

Russell says DeSoto County has ordinances in place to handle property maintenance.

"If we get complaints, if we declare that it's a health or safety hazard, we can require the grass to be cut," he said. "If the landowner doesn't comply, then we have to give him a certain amount of notice, and then the county can come in and cut the grass."

This is a task assigned to code enforcement which falls under the Planning Department.  Director Jim McDougal says their workload is getting busier these days during the tough times.

"I've noticed that their workload has probably increased a good, I'll say, 25, maybe 30 percent," McDougal said.

Both McDougal and Russell say that the county has done a good job in maintaining empty properties to this point, and both are cautiously optimistic that even though foreclosure rates are up, the economy will hopefully rebound sometime late next year.

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