[Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. III)]
This article is enacted pursuant to §§ 12 and 17 of the Appomattox Town Charter and § 15.2-1115 of the Code of Virginia, in order to promote the general welfare of the Town and the safety, health, peace, good order, comfort, convenience and morale of its inhabitants.
The following definitions shall apply to these words when used in this article:
- NEGLECTED PROPERTY
- Includes any property within the Town limits which contains weeds that violate the provisions of this article and whose owner/occupant has failed to cut the weeds after receiving notice from the Town.
- Includes the owner or occupant of any parcel of real estate, including but not limited to any person in possession thereof having charge thereof as an executor, administrator, trustee, guardian or agent, and the beneficiary of any easement or right of use thereof.
- Includes any plant, grass or other vegetation (herbaceous or woody) over 12 inches in height, excluding trees, ornamental shrubbery, vegetable and flower gardens purposefully planted and maintained by the property owner or occupant free of weed hazard or nuisance, cultivated crops, or undisturbed woodland not otherwise in violation.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or owners, occupant or occupants of any property, either vacant or developed, situated in the Town to allow weeds to reach a stage of growth wherein it causes a public nuisance as defined in § 117-1 of this chapter. Weeds shall be cut on properties zoned for agricultural or conservation purposes, used as farmland, or vacant Town-owned property when such weeds are within 50 feet of a residence.
The owner or occupants of property situated in the Town shall be, and are hereby, required to cut and/or remove all weeds as defined in § 117-20. It shall be the duty of the Town Manager or his/her designee to serve notice on the owner or owners to cause such grass, weeds, other foreign growth to be cut and/or removed from the premises within 10 calendar days after notification.
All notices to comply with the provisions of this article shall be served either by personal service, publication, posting or by certified mail and such procedures shall be deemed the equivalent of personal service. If the owner or owners of any unoccupied lot or premises is not a resident of the Town and does not have an agent in the Town upon whom notice can be served, notice may be given by sending the same by certified mail to the last-known address of the nonresident owner. The last-known address of the owner shall be that shown on the current real estate tax assessment books or current real estate tax assessment records of Appomattox County. Nonresident owners shall also have 10 calendar days to comply with said directive.
Citizens may contact the Town Manager, who shall be responsible for enforcing the provisions of this article. The Town Manager shall have the authority to delegate duties and powers to other appropriate agencies and individuals to assist in the enforcement of this article. Whenever the words "Town Manager" are used in this article, they shall include all the agencies or individuals to which the Town Manager delegates enforcement powers, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
The Town Manager shall have the authority, whenever deemed appropriate, to have such weeds on property or on such portions of the property as deemed appropriate cut and/or removed and to restrict their future growth by the Town's agents or employees, in which event, the costs and expenses thereof shall be chargeable to and paid by the owner or owners of such property and may be collected by the Town in the same manner as taxes and levies are collected, and all unpaid costs and expenses shall constitute a lien against such property. Any owner may avoid any liability to the Town provided abatement is completed prior to the initiation of the abatement process by the Town's designated agent. The minimum cost per violation for weed cutting and removal pursuant to this section shall be $150 for the first hour of Town staff time, with $75 being charged for each hour of staff time thereafter.
Whenever any person believes that the provisions of this article are being violated such person can make written application to the Town Manager and the Town Manager shall examine the condition of the property described in such application. If the Town Manager determines that the provisions of this article are being violated, the owner/occupant of the offending property shall be given notice as provided in § 117-23 of this article and shall be requested to remove the weeds from the property within 10 calendar days of the delivery or mailing of the notice.
If the owner of the property cannot be found within the Town after a reasonable search, notice shall be sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner as provided in § 117-24 of this article and a copy of the notice shall be posted on the property in a conspicuous place and such procedures shall be deemed the equivalent of personal service.
If the owner/occupant of the property does not cut the weeds within 10 calendar days of the delivery or mailing of the notice or within 10 calendar days of the posting of the notice, whichever period is greater, the Town Manager shall declare the property to be "neglected property," and such designation shall remain in full force and effect until the owner gives the Town Manager adequate assurances that the property will be properly maintained in regard to weeds in the future.
Once the Town Manager designates a parcel of property to be "neglected property," the person or organization that made application to the department shall be authorized to go onto the property as an agent of the Town at the applicant's sole cost and expense to cut, remove and restrict the future growth of the offending weeds. The applicant shall be responsible for taking all precautions necessary to cut, remove and restrict the growth of offending weeds in a safe and proper manner. Chain saws shall not be used unless specifically authorized by the Town Manager.
Neither the Town, or its employees and officials shall be liable for any damages or injuries caused by cutting, removing or restricting the future growth of weeds from a "neglected property" and shall not be liable for any damages, injuries or expenses incurred by any applicant or any other person in cutting, removing or restricting the future growth of weeds.
The provisions of this article shall not authorize an applicant to enter onto property to remove trees or shrubbery unless the branches, limbs, or other parts of the trees or shrubbery extend or protrude onto private property in a manner which constitutes a danger to citizens or property or where the limbs or branches are likely to fall in such a manner as to endanger private citizens or property. If the Town Manager determines that the trees or shrubbery constitute a danger to private citizens or property, the applicant may be authorized to cut and remove such trees and shrubbery that have been designated for removal by the department of community planning and development in accordance with the provisions of this article.