By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
All Margaret Dindinger wanted was to make Curry County a little more attractive.
She said she never imagined her petition to clean up the highway entrances to the county would snowball into nuisance ordinance proposals that have divided residents. On one side are residents who want their neighbors to take better care of their property. On the other side are some who say the government is interfering with their rights.
“All I’m asking is just clean up the trash,” said Dindinger, who asked the county’s Land Use Committee on Thursday to re-evaluate the latest ordinance proposal.
About 20 other county residents attended the meeting to address another draft of a nuisance ordinance designed to enforce cleaning up properties in the county.
The ordinance would regulate items such debris, tall weeds and grass and toxic substances on properties in the county. The ordinance calls for a fine of $500 for each separate offense.
County commissioner and committee member Frank Blackburn said the ordinance only addresses health and safety concerns, not beautification.
County Manager Lance Pyle said the sheriff’s office would enforce the ordinance and deputies could be trained to assess nuisances.
In Robert Snell’s opinion, what the Land Use Committee is proposing is becoming more of a nuisance than trash on properties.
“I think you ought to drop it,” said Snell, who suggested rewarding people for keeping their properties clean instead.
Wesley Graham, a scrap dealer in western Curry County, said the nuisance ordinance is “going too far.” He said the ordinance could interfere with his livelihood.
But to Kara Crow, the ordinance would help her deal with neighbors whose trash blows onto her property where she is raising two children.
“We were told there weren’t any regulations (in the county), and there’s nothing I can do about it,” she said.
Texico Municipal Schools Superintendent R.L. Richards said the ordinance would provide a good environment for children.
“Kids need clean places to live,” he said.
Some residents asked the committee to make the ordinance even more specific and more focused on health and safety issues.
Pyle said a revised copy of the draft addressing some concerns brought up during Thursday’s meeting will be presented at a June committee meeting.
Once the committee recommends the ordinance for adoption, the county commission will hold a public hearing and decide whether to adopt the ordinance.