By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County codes says no policy about tall grass
local news.png
Warren County government is not in the business of property maintenance.
Building and Environmental Codes Department director Richard Thompson says his department handles property safety issues, but it does not have the funds to handle all property issues.
Thompson outlined his duties to the county Policy and Personnel Committee to educate new members Steve Glenn, Steven Helton, Lori Judkins and Phillip Stout. Returning as chair is Commissioner Tommy Savage.
“Basically, I handle the building permits and codes and inspections of all new constructions, commercial and residential,” said Thompson. “I also handle environmental codes which includes the junk yard/ scrap yard, overgrown vegetation and accumulative debris, the mobile home act, the adult entertainment act. I think that’s about it.”
The county doesn’t enforce subdivision regulations, nor does it have zoning districts.
“We do not have any zoning,” he said. “If someone wants to take their half-acre lot with a house on it and start an automobile repair garage and start working on cars at 7 o’clock in the morning, there’s not anything we can do about it. The same thing with gun ranges.”
Thompson says the policy does not address common complaints about tall grass and overgrown property.
“The overgrown vegetation code that we have is not a property maintenance code. It’s a public safety code. Basically, it reads, ‘growth of trees, vines, grass, brush and accumulative debris, trash, garbage or any combination of the preceding elements, or a vacant, dilapidated building or structure so as to endanger the health, safety and welfare of the citizens or to encourage the infestation of rats or other harmful animals.’”  
The code also says if the county issues a citation and the property owner does not comply within 10 calendar days, Warren County must take steps to remedy the situation. Any cost incurred by the county will be accessed against the owner as a lien on the property.
“When it comes to burnt-out buildings and things like that, if I go in and tell them it’s a danger to the public and the property owner doesn’t come in, follow up and take care of the problem, then the county gets placed in a position of liability,” said Thompson. “My department doesn’t have the funds to remove a building. If it costs us $4,000 to remove a structure and the property is only valued at $1,500, having a lien on the property won’t do much to recoup those costs.”

Committee members were given copies of the county’s Building and Environment Codes policy.