Chancellor orders resident to work on furlough in order to address litter code

Billy Joe Miller returned to stand in front of Chancellor John Rambo Wednesday morning in a follow-up to being found in civil contempt last week. Now Miller has been sentenced to jail to work until he has successfully cleaned his property.

Code Enforcement Officer Jay Cook said Miller received specific measures in order to alleviate the violation during his court appearance on Tuesday, May 28.

“Rambo informed Miller that he did not make the clean up a top priority as he had ordered, and because of that he was sentenced to jail to work on furlough until the property becomes compliant,” Cook said. “Miller was ordered to clean the property and upon completion would purge himself of contempt.”

Wednesday’s decision comes on the heels of other court decisions over the past few weeks, as city and county governments are trying to find ways to alleviate unsightly litter and other trash in communities.

“Most of the properties that are brought to my attention are in violation of the county’s Litter Resolution,” he said. “They are reported by neighbors and other citizens that find the property to be a nuisance.”

The resolution went into effect in 2017, allowing citizens to receive 30-day warnings about litter on their property. Those found to be in violation can even contact Cook in order to figure out a remedial plan in order to more easily become compliant.

“We in the planning office, myself in particular, do not want to force court on anyone,” Cook said. “I do not want people to have to pay court fees and appear before the chancellor over a property nuisance that can be easily remedied by cleaning the property.”

Despite this, however, Cook said the ultimate responsibility for cleaning up the property rests with the property owner, and if the commission receives enough complaints, they need to act.

“This matter is taken very seriously in our office and by county officials,” he said. “I do my best to take complaints and do everything I can to get properties in compliance, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the property owner, and unfortunately, today’s events can be the outcome.”

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