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Overgrown weed properties in Ozark

A hazard right next door. It could be the case for some people living in Ozark, next to houses with excessive weeds. WDHN's Valencia Jones shares why this is a major issue for everyone involved.
Jonathan Cordell, Building Official with the City of Ozark's Inspection Department, discusses the process of handling excessive weed properties.
Jonathan Cordell, Building Official with the City of Ozark's Inspection Department, discusses the process of handling excessive weed properties.
People in violation of Ozark's excessive weeds ordinance are subject to tax liens covering any maintenance costs paid by the city plus a $200.00 administration fee.
People in violation of Ozark's excessive weeds ordinance are subject to tax liens covering any maintenance costs paid by the city plus a $200.00 administration fee.
Ozark resident Larry March looks over at the overgrown weeds in the yard next door.
 
"Somebody needs to come out here and cut it, because no one has been out here in a while," March said.
 
Neighbors are concerned not just about how these yards look, they're also concerned about what lurks in the weeds.
 
"Whoever's supposed to be seeing about it should keep it up, because all it is, is a snake hazard now. As hot as it is, snakes will be crawling in everybody's yards,” said March.
 
Snakes, rodents and bugs have some people afraid to sit out in their own yards for long.  And while neighbors say the problem seems easy to solve, the city says it's not so simple.
 
"The process is to write a letter to the owners of the property, and we have to send the letter certified mail. And once they get it, they have ten days to clean the property up," said Jonathan Cordell, Building Official of Ozark’s Inspection Department.
 
But it doesn't stop there.
 
"After the 10 days, if they have not cleaned it up, then we have to take it before city council and call for a public hearing."
 
He says the excessive weed properties are listed in the paper for two weeks, and it takes 14 more days before a public hearing. 
 
Foreclosures and other circumstances can pose as obstacles, but some say the process is part of the problem.
 
Most of these properties are vacant, and the homeowners are nowhere to be found.  But the city says the process goes much quicker when they are located or living in the property.
 
Nonetheless, the city wants to address the people who contribute to the problem.
 
"If you own a property in Ozark, then we ask you to just get the grass cut, keep it cut, keep it nice and maintained.  That helps not only the City of Ozark, but it helps your neighbors as well.  Just be a good neighbor, that's what we're asking people to do."
 
And being a good neighbor can help you avoid tax liens and other fines.
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