County to promote decay law
By BRENT SHRUM Western News Reporter
The Lincoln County Commissioners agreed on Wednesday to take out newspaper ads explaining the county's decay ordinance but balked at a proposal from Libby Revitalization Inc. to send out letters on the issue to all area residents.
The tone of the letter drafted by LRI implied that everyone was a potential violator of the ordinance, said Commissioner Rita Windom. She said sending out the letter might do more harm than good.
"If I had a nice yard and I got a letter about a decay ordinance and junk, I would be furious," said Commissioner Marianne Roose.
Windom said she would prefer a series of newspaper ads explaining the ordinance.
"We're open to anything," said LRI board member Tom Wood.
LRI has been working with the county planning department on enforcement of the ordinance, targeting properties with significant visible accumulations of junk.
"That's been going very well," Wood told the commissioners.
The group has turned in a dozen or more violators, providing the county with photos and documentation, Wood said. Of those, the county is working with eight property owners on cleanup, he said.
"We've just touched the tip of the iceberg as far as we're concerned as a group," Wood said.
He said the group is staying off private property and is taking photos from public rights of way.
"We certainly don't want to come across as the Gestapo," he said. "We don't want to come across like we're the neat freaks, but there are some of them that are just so grossly in violation."
Some people may be in violation without realizing it, said LRI's Chuck Woods.
"What they're accepting may not be acceptable to others," he said. "We're trying to get everyone to look at things the same way."
LRI member Bobby Whitefield expressed concerns that newspaper ads might miss much of the intended audience. A lot of the people who might be in violation of the decay ordinance don't read newspapers, he said. He suggested that those people be contacted directly through letters or notices placed on doors.