Just a few months after implementing its friendly reminders to residents whose properties are in violation of maintenance codes, the City of Fayetteville is continuing to experience big results.
About 75 percent of the 500-plus property owners who’ve received the reminders since the program began have remedied their property maintenance issues, according to Kristi Gentry and Lenace Vaughn of Fayetteville’s planning and codes department, explaining that for many, the issue simply comes down to knowing they’re in violation and being nudged to bring their properties into compliance.
“It’s more than just grass,” said Kristi. “They don’t realize that it’s also about overgrown lots and inoperative vehicles, trash and debris, the condition of a house ... and where we have a lot of trouble is the vacant properties that are owned by people out of town. The properties are out of sight and out of mind, so those owners don’t realize what our standards are and that they’re in violation.”
While the city’s property maintenance codes have been in place for years, the city hasn’t had adequate staff to always notify property owners when it came to issues that put their properties in violation. In recent months, however, that has changed, and using the friendly reminders, which come by way of door hangers and postcards, the new program is making a difference.
“It’s about having a safe and attractive community for residents and visitors alike,” Lenace said. “Why wouldn’t we want to keep Fayetteville a beautiful and safe place to live? This affects all of us, and everyone who owns property here should be happy to keep things in order and follow the rules. This is something I’m very passionate about.”
Fixing maintenance issues is a beginning point, Kristi said, noting that there are other ideas they’d like to implement, such as beautification projects, all for the benefit of Fayetteville as a whole, including areas that most of us don’t see every day. In any situation, there are neighbors who experience the ill effects of properties not in compliance.
“People want safe areas for their children to play,” said Lenace, explaining that the friendly reminders are not only aimed at eliminating the offensive or harsh letters previously sent via certified mail by the city but, more so, to simply say, in a nice way, could you just handle this issue before it gets too out of hand.
“And we can help them through this process,” Kristi said, adding that both she and Vaughn can offer suggestions as to how to most easily remedy the situation, even in as to possible contractors that may be used.
Lenace is also tackling the issues of run down and abandoned houses, and buildings that have deteriorated and become blighted, and as winter approaches, she’ll be spending more of her time focusing on those areas.
“We want to recognize people, too, for their efforts,” she continued. “I’ve stopped several times and thanked residents – I’ve told them, ‘thank you for what you have done.’ ... We’re not here to make anybody mad or hurt anyone’s feelings. We really do want to make life better for everyone who lives in Fayetteville. After all, this is the place we all call home.”
Anytime anyone has any questions or concerns, they are encouraged to contact the City of Fayetteville’s Department of Planning and Codes – just call 931-433-2565 and ask for either Kristi and Lenace.