While new Blanco police chief Michael Ritchey has taken on the issue of loose dogs around the city, Officer Dale Bennett is working to clean up the town.
Before joining the Blanco department, Officer Bennett drove through town all the time. Now that he’s patrolling the city, and getting to see more than just Main Street, he is seeing the problems.
“We started looking at the ordinances,” Bennett says, “and I said, you know, this is something that can be done.”
City of Blanco ordinance number 332 outlines what the city considers “unsafe, unsightly, or unsanitary conditions” and the penalties for violations.
Last week, the Officer Bennett sent out three notices for violations of the ordinance. One of the recipients came in to the department and asked, “What do I need to do? What’s this?”
“Basically, you follow the rules is what it says,” Bennett responded. “I give them a date. You have 30 days to comply, or, within those 30 days, you come in and talk to us and … give us some type of reasonable time frame that we can document.” After that time has passed, Officer Bennett will check up on the progress. If there hasn’t been any resolution, or movement toward a resolution, the PD will send the complaint to the city attorney. The attorney then takes the matter up with the municipal court.
“It’s unfair to everyone else who lives here in Blanco,” the officer continued, “who keep up with their property, as difficult as it is and as difficult as times are right now financially, it’s just not fair to us who take care of our properties.”
Garbage and overgrowth creates a breeding ground for insects, rodents, snakes, and other vermin, Bennett points out. One house, he recalled, is a source of snakes and other things next door to homes with kids and pets.
The ordinance makes it unlawful for any person or entity who owns or occupies property within the city limits to allow the accumulation of refuse, vegetation, or other matter that creates breeding and living places for insects and rodents; the accumulation of materials that creates a public safety hazard; the existence of dangerously damaged or deteriorated structure or improvement; or the discharge of a pollutant into a sewer system. The ordinance also covers refuse that has a blighting influence on the property or the neighborhood.
Materials that creates a public safety hazard includes discarded automobiles, appliances, building materials, or implements. A violation of the ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000.
Before rushing off to respond to a call, Officer Bennett added that citizens can file complaints with Blanco PD by calling 830-833-4375 or stopping by the department on Blanco Ave.