City ordinance to maintain right of ways called into question

May 1, 2013 3:49:17 PM PDT
Did you know you can be ticketed for not maintaining a piece of land owned by the city? It's a Houston code that one city council member says needs to be updated.

The city ordinance was meant to ensure right of ways in front of people's homes were kept up; it wasn't meant to require citizens to mow entire stretches of city land. Now all sides agree it's time for a change.

"The possum and rats and everything lives in there," said resident Melvin Freeman.

He is frustrated with the overgrown right of way next to his mother's home wedged between two modest houses. This stretch of land was supposed to become a city street years ago, but it never happened.

"In the summer time, snakes comes out of there, and everybody's trying to kill them," said neigbor Ophelia Simon.

City ordinance says it's the responsibility of homeowners to care of right of ways next to their property, but the ordinance didn't account for undeveloped streets that became overgrown lots.

City Council Member Jerry Davis says he became aware of this quandary and says it needs to be addressed.

"They don't own it, so the question is why should they take care of it," said Davis.

Mayor Annise Parker agrees.

"This has never been a problem apparently before, but neighborhoods change, local residents change, and this is the kind of issue the council member raised," she said.

The city is working on possibly tweaking the ordinance so neighbors won't be required to care for undeveloped streets.

"We can't keep it clean; it's up to the city people to keep it clean," said resident Dorothy Brown.

Freeman says if city crews could bring heavy equipment and clean this strip, he'd be willing to help keep it up.

"Yeah, I'd keep it clean. I'd keep it up, sure would," he said.

Exactly how the city will solve the problem is unclear right now, but the first step is that they are now aware of the issue and can look for a solution.
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