Summer property maintenance crackdown in Savannah

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's that time of year when the grass starts growing faster, and that means here in Savannah, you either keep up with your yard or expect at least a warning from the city.

"Overgrown lots. Everywhere, anywhere, and a lot of properties are vacant so we have a problem tracking down property owners to maintain the property," said City of Savannah Property Maintenance Director Kimberly Corbin.

Enforcement officers like Michael Chaney ride around checking to make sure property owners are keeping up with their yards and the height of your grass, which should be no more than 10 inches tall.

"We have a vacant lot that sits on the corner, we've got overgrowth that's coming over, we've got litter," said Chaney.

Chaney says maintaining these lots is more than aesthetics and keeping surrounding property value up, it's also about public safety.

"Our concern is to make sure we keep things like this cut, so it will be safe for the kids when I get off the bus, and also in the morning when I get ready to go to school," Chaney.

Tracking down property owners can be difficult. And when the city can't, it falls on taxpayer dollars. Between 2015 and 2016, the City paid contractors more than 300-thousand dollars to clean up overgrown yards and tear down blighted property.

House Bill 434 becoming law should help lighten the load of blighted property the department has to keep up with.

"Because we must give due notice and proper notice to everyone, shortening those time frames will certainly help us. But we still kind of keep that same status quo of pursuing properties and finding owners and finding someone to be responsible for the property," said Corbin.

The inspector I followed around says the majority of the time, if they actually encounter a homeowner, they work with them and actually get the yard back into compliance before ever needing to go to court.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.