The City of Laurens Building & Zoning Department will be ratcheting up enforcement on code violations beginning October 19, 2020 in a new initiative called “Clean-up Crackdown.”
The City’s new push against code violations is similar to the “Click-it or Ticket” initiatives taken by the SC Highway Patrol against seatbelt violations. The public is given advance notice that there will be a stepped-up effort to address violations, and they are given time to fix their issues before facing legal consequences.
The City will prioritize enforcement against properties that are unsafe and unfit for occupancy first, and then blighted properties and other code violations will be addressed second.
“We want to be fair. So, the City is sending out this blanket notice to everyone so that they can come into compliance with the law within the next thirty (30) days,” said Building and Zoning Department Head Jeremy Hudson. “Don’t wait for us to come knocking before you clean up, and don’t assume that simply because you haven’t been cited for a violation before that you won’t be now.” Hudson added. “If you believe your property is in violation because of boarded up windows, overgrown yards, or for whatever reason, or might be in violation, now is the time to fix it. Don’t expect a warning. This is your warning.”
Property owners who have questions about the City’s Code are encouraged to visit the City’s website and click on the link entitled “Clean-Up Crackdown.” A list of common violations is posted, and a link to the entire code is also provided. Those who do not have internet access or who have additional questions may contact City Hall at 864-984-0144.
“Many of the property owners who will face tickets were notified of their violations more than a year ago, and we have tried to be patient to work with them and encourage voluntary compliance,” said Hudson. “Unfortunately, many folks have just ignored our warnings. Now, they should expect consequences.”
Depending on the nature of the code violation, penalties could range from $50 to $1,500. “Just like a speeding ticket, there is nothing personal about the citations which will be issued,” said Hudson. “We just want to do our part to make sure the law is enforced fairly and equally.”
“I think it is important to understand that this initiative is primarily intended to drive people to voluntarily comply with the law and clean up the city. Houses and buildings which are abandoned, overgrown, and blighted become ‘welcome’ signs for criminals, they lower the property values of their neighbors, and they discourage investment in this community,” said Mayor Nathan Senn. “I believe that if people are willing to pay a little bit more to live or do business in the City of Laurens rather than the county, they should expect to receive the benefits of our laws which require property owners to maintain their property. If we don’t do our job enforcing the law, taxpayers aren’t receiving the benefit of living in the clean, beautiful city they should expect. And, we invite other problems like crime. So, we are going to do our part, and we expect every property owner/tenant to do theirs.”
Mayor Senn also expects that stepped-up enforcement against code violations may lead to other criminal prosecutions. “What we have seen from the Laurens Sheriff’s Office is that when they find instances of animal neglect and abuse, there is often other criminal activity taking place. Similarly, if we are taking steps to enforce the law regarding a code violation and it reveals drug-related crime or other criminal activity, we will not hesitate to have our police address those issues as well.”